News & Politics

A Political Civil War Over Election Audit in Pennsylvania

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Pennsylvania is in the midst of a political civil war over whether or not to hold an election audit.

If the Democrats have nothing to hide, why not let those silly Republicans chase their tails?

After some heated debate, Pennsylvania’s Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted along party lines Wednesday, 7-4, to issue subpoenas to acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid. The move requires her office to provide a cache of recent election information. Democrats are hoping to block the subpoenas in court.

“It has been made plain that the Department of State and acting Secretary of State Degraffenreid are not willing to participate in this investigation into the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary election, and how the election code is working after the sweeping changes of act 77 of 2020,”  Cris Dush, the committee majority chair, said in the opening comments of the meeting.

Act 77 was signed by Governor Tom Wolf in 2019.

Act 77 Fast Facts:

  • It created a new option to vote by mail without providing an excuse.
  • It allows for a 50-day mail-in voting period, the longest vote-by-mail period in the country.
  • Act 77 extended the deadline to register to vote from 15 days to 30 days before an election.
  • It also extended mail-in and absentee submission deadlines from the Friday before an election to 8 p.m. on Election Day

The subpoenas call for the Department of State to provide the following information to the Senate Republican Caucus by Oct. 1:

  • all communications between the Department of State and any county election director and other election officials
  • a copy of every version of directives, guidance, policies and procedures in effect during relevant dates, relating to elections, election systems, mail-in ballot applications, ballots, polling places, or poll watchers
  • all training material used to train election workers

One of the subpoenas calls for detailed voter lists, including name, date of birth, driver’s license number, last four digits of Social Security number, home address, and, in some cases, the date a person last voted.

Democrats have an issue with some of the info being requested, particularly driver’s license info and the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number.

“You’re asking for a lot of information … for nearly 7 million people,” Democrat state Sen. Steven Santarsiero stated. “What do you hope to do with that information?”

Santarsiero also questioned Dush about who will be receiving the mountain of voter information.

“We are still looking at vendors who will handle the information,” Dush said. “I’m not going to be hiring political activists to do the investigation.”

Democrat state Sen. Vincent Hughes went so far as to complain about “members” of the Senate who were “involved in the insurrection” having access to investigation information. He was referring to Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who claimed he attended the January 6 rally in support of President Trump and that he followed the law while there.

Mastriano, who doesn’t believe the subpoenas go far enough, issued the following statement:

The Senate’s Democratic Caucus is expected to file court papers in the Commonwealth Court on Wednesday seeking an injunction to stop the subpoenas.

Weird move, if they have nothing to hide.