Pennsylvania Republicans on Wednesday requested personal information about every voter in the state as part of a partisan review in preparation for the 2020 election results, approving more than a dozen subpoenas for numbers of driver’s license and partial social security numbers.
Broad request for personal information, made to the Pennsylvania State Department and approved in a vote by Republicans in a state Senate subcommittee, is the first major step in the investigation electoral. The move adds Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that have embarked on partisan reviews of the 2020 election, including a widely criticized attempt to undermine results in Arizona’s larger county.
Democrats in the Senate questioned whether the committee even had the power to request such information, which state law generally protects from public disclosure, and denounced the investigation as patently partisan and unfounded.
The subpoenas, 17 in total, also included a request for communication between state and county election officials. They did not include requests for electoral machinery or equipment.
Republicans in several states have conducted similar reviews – falsely labeled “audits” to suggest an authoritative non-partisan investigation – in the name of protecting “electoral integrity.” Critics have often focused on baseless claims and debunked presidential conspiracy theories, spurred in part by lies promoted by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies.
President Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, and the results were reaffirmed by the State Department of the State.
“The entirety of our proceedings today, in issuing subpoenas, is based on such an unreliable foundation,” said Anthony H. Williams, a Democratic state senator who represents an area near Philadelphia. He added that it was “very disturbing and, in fact, leads us to darker days in this country, like when hearings like these, during the McCarthy era, were held, where voices were heard. silenced and freedoms denied, intimidated by government power. ”
State Senator Jake Corman, the top House Republican, who approved the review last month, described the investigation as simply trying to shed light on future legislation and hit back at Democrats, asking them why they were scared “.
“All we do is research facts, research information, so that we can develop better public policies,” Corman said.
One of the main concerns for Democrats, beyond subpoenas, was which people or companies might have access to the personal information store for the nearly seven million Pennsylvanians who voted in the 2020 election.
State Senator Steven J. Santarsiero, a Democrat from suburban Philadelphia, pressed Republican committee chairman State Senator Cris Dush, who is leading the investigation, on his selection process. Mr Santarsiero specifically asked if any of the vendors the Republicans are considering had ties to Sidney Powell, the lawyer who popularized many bogus conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
“The answer to that is I really don’t know, because it’s not something that is relevant to my determination,” Mr. Dush replied.
“So is it possible?” Asked Mr. Santarsiero.
“It is entirely possible,” said Mr. Dush.
Summons to appear are likely to be the subject of a backlash from the administration of Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid has advised counties not to comply with previous requests for election information and machinery from the Republican-controlled state Senate.