State Watch

Pennsylvania GOP authorizes subpoenas in election probe

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Republicans in the Pennsylvania state Senate took a step toward initiating an Arizona-style “audit” of the 2020 election results when they voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas for personal information on every voter around the commonwealth.

The state Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted to authorize 17 subpoenas, seeking information from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration that includes partial Social Security numbers, driver’s license information, how each voter cast a ballot and when those voters last cast a ballot.

The move is the latest step toward what Pennsylvania Republicans call a “forensic audit” into the 2020 election results, part of a broader trend of Republican-controlled legislatures seeking to undermine faith and confidence in the results of the election that former President Trump lost to President Biden.

Biden carried Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes by more than 80,000 votes in 2020, a wider margin than that by which Trump carried the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden won the state by more than a full percentage point, well beyond the margin under which the state could have conducted a recount.

In introducing the hearing, committee Chairman Cris Dush (R) said the review was necessary because of questions over whether improper votes had been cast. He, and other Republicans, did not mention that Trump has been responsible for spreading lies and disinformation about the results of electoral contests around the country.

In a statement, Wolf condemned what he said was a Republican effort to undermine confidence in the American electoral system, at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars.

“Let’s be very clear, this information request is merely another step to undermine democracy, confidence in our elections and to capitulate to Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. It is a direct continuation of the same lies that resulted in the attack on the Capitol, and that have done so much to destabilize our political institutions over the ten months since last year’s election,” Wolf said. “We badly need Republicans to take election security seriously and stop playing games for political gain.”

Wolf’s administration has said it plans to fight the subpoenas in court.

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans have come under direct pressure from Trump and his allies to conduct an audit, even after Biden’s victory was certified. Once an opponent of such an audit, Pennsylvania Senate President pro tem Jake Corman (R) — who had been criticized repeatedly by Trump in emailed statements — has come around to the conspiracy theory-driven concept of a forensic audit in recent months.

In an interview last month, Corman told a conservative radio host the Senate would begin the process of a forensic audit. He said he had spoken to top Arizona Republicans, who initiated their own so-called audit of more than 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County.

Corman sidelined the initial mastermind of efforts to audit election results, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), for what Corman said was grandstanding in the midst of a serious investigation. Several counties, led by Republicans, had rejected Mastriano’s attempts to gain access to voting machines and other records.

One county that did allow access by state legislators already faces consequences: Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenreid told officials in rural Fulton County in July that they would have to buy new voting machines after the county allowed inspectors from a third-party vendor access to voting machines.

Tags Donald Trump election 2020 Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Pennsylvania Tom Wolf
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