On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Republican legislators voted to subpoena its top election official. This review joins widely criticized efforts in other battleground states that aims to fuel doubts about 2020.
Republicans from the state Senate committee that oversees the review will vote 7 to 4 in favor of their party. They will issue a subpoena to Veronica Degraffenreid (acting head of the Department of State), for information about 7 million voters.
Democratic legislators, who are the minority in the legislature said that they would challenge the subpoena at court.
This move is part of what is expected to be a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania’s elections last November. It also comes amid similar efforts from Republicans in other key States to promote the absurd claim that former Republican President Donald Trump didn’t lose because there was widespread voter fraud.
Multiple audits confirmed Trump’s defeat in Pennsylvania to President Joe Biden, a loss of nearly 81,000 votes. This was certified over nine months ago.
Trump’s Michigan and Wisconsin allies are also conducting election probes. They model their efforts after an ongoing audit of Arizona, which a wide range of election experts, Democrats, and some Republican officials rejected as a partisan operation run primarily by contractors with no relevant expertise.
The Pennsylvania subpoena seeks a wide range of information, including driver’s license numbers, addresses and the last four digits from the Social Security numbers for all registered voters in Pennsylvania. These numbers are separated by county, with separate lists for those who voted by mail.
Cris Dush (the Republican chair of the Intergovernmental Operations committee that oversees the review) stated at a hearing, “The objective was to verify whether votes have been cast by people who exist” and to examine various allegations about the election to determine if they are true.”
Dush cut off the live video feed several times during the heated hearing. One Democratic lawmaker asked Dush if Republicans who attended Jan. 6’s rally in Washington would be able to access information obtained via subpoena. To stop Biden’s victory being certified, the rally ended that day with a devastating attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“We have every reason, every right to be concerned about what happens with these documents, with this information,” said Vincent Hughes, a Democratic member of the committee. “You are asking for prolific personal information.”
Dush stated that unlike the audit in Arizona, Pennsylvania’s review would be funded by taxpayers. The lawmaker, a Trump supporter who toured the Arizona operation in June, also promised he was “not going to be hiring political activists” to carry out the review. He said he was still vetting vendors.
Dush and Jake Corman, the top Republican in the state Senate, said the subpoenas and the broader review were not aimed at reversing Trump’s loss, but rather finding any flaws in the state’s voting systems to inform future legislative fixes.
“The legislature has no authority to overturn an election,” said Corman, the chamber’s president pro tempore.
Jay Costa, the Senate’s minor leader, stated that Democrats will file a lawsuit in state court on Friday claiming that Republicans are lately trying to challenge the election. This is required by law within 20 days.
“This is clearly a separation of powers issue,” Costa said.
“We cannot some 10, 11 months later come back and try and do another election contest. That is what the crux of this is about.”
In a statement, the Pennsylvania attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro said that while most of the requested information is public, his office would work to secure the personal data such as Social Security numbers. Subpoenas are also available.