Pennsylvania Republicans moved on Wednesday to obtain personal information on every voter in the state as part of a brewingly partisan review of 2020 election results, over a dozen subpoenas for driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security numbers. rubber-stamping.
The detailed request for personal information, directed at Pennsylvania’s State Department and approved in a vote by Republicans on a state Senate subcommittee, is the first major step in the election investigation. The move adds Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that have launched partisan-led reviews of the 2020 election, including a widely criticized attempt to downplay the result in Arizona’s largest county.
Democrats in the Senate questioned whether the committee had the authority to request such information, which is generally state law. shield from public disclosure, and described the investigation as nakedly biased and baseless.
The summons, 17 in total, also included a request for communication between state and county election officials. They did not include requests for election machines or equipment.
Republicans in several states have followed up with similar reviews – misleadingly labeled “audits” to suggest an official non-partisan investigation in the name of protecting “electoral integrity.” Reviews often focused on unsubstantiated claims and debunking conspiracy theories about the presidential election, which former President Donald J. Inspired by the lies propagated by Trump and his allies.
President Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, and the results were confirmed by the State Department of State.
“Our entire proceedings today, issuing the summons, are based on such an incredible foundation,” said Democratic state senator Anthony H. Williams, who represents an area near Philadelphia. He said that it was “very disturbing and, in fact, leads us to dark days in this country, such as when such hearings took place during the McCarthy era, where voices were silenced and freedom from There was denial, which was being threatened by the power of the government.”
State Senator Jake Corman, the top Republican in the chamber who approved the review last month, painted the investigation as merely an attempt to inform future legislation and lashed out at Democrats, asking if they were “scared”. .
“We’re just looking for facts, asking for information, so that we can make better public policy,” said Mr. Corman.
A main concern from Democrats beyond the summons was that people or companies might have access to a repository of personal information for the nearly seven million Pennsylvanians who voted in the 2020 election.
A Democrat from the Philadelphia suburbs, State Senator Steven J. Santarcero pressed the chairman of the Republican committee, State Senator Chris Dush, who is leading the investigation, on his selection process. Mr Santarcero specifically asked whether the sellers Republicans are considering had links to Sidney Powell, the lawyer who has popularized several false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
“The answer is that I really don’t know, because it’s not something that is relevant to my determination,” replied Mr. Dush.
“So it’s possible, then?” Mr Santarcero asked.
“It is absolutely possible,” said Mr. Dush.
The summons could face backlash from the administration of a Democrat, Gov. Tom Wolf. The acting secretary of state, Veronica DeGraffnerid, has advised counties not to comply with past requests for election information and machines from the Republican-controlled state Senate.