(HARRISBURG) – After the Pennsylvania Department of State refused to participate in a hearing and provide information about the state’s election process, state Senator Judy Ward (R-30) voted today to subpoena information as part of the ongoing forensic election investigation.
“I have heard from countless constituents wanting answers. It should be no problem to go over the process and to investigate these questions as I think it speaks to the very foundation of our democratic society,” said Senator Ward, a member of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee that is conducting the investigation into the election. “If the Department of State wants to respond by stonewalling and avoiding the discussion, then we have every right – and a responsibility – to subpoena this information.”
Department of State officials were invited to testify last week at hearing before the committee to discuss controversial guidance issued to counties in the final weeks and days leading up to the 2020 General Election. The department refused to participate and answer questions from the committee, resulting in the issuance of the subpoenas. The department has until Oct. 1 to respond to the subpoenas.
“This is a good first step,” Senator Ward said. “The initial subpoenas are now out the door. Today’s action is the beginning of the information we will demand as part of our review of the state’s elections. I understand and agree with the desire for more information and apparatuses involved. I continue to support getting ballots and other substantial information from counties.
The subpoenas will include all guidance issued to counties, as well as all communications between the Department of State and county election officials. All training materials, copies of all guidance and directives to counties are also included.
In addition to subpoenaing information pertaining to the Department’s controversial guidance, the committee also approved subpoenas for key voter data, including lists of all registered voters, voter activity, the method by which voters cast their ballots, and changes in voter registration.
The registration and voter lists will help paint a more complete picture of Pennsylvania’s election system.
Immediately following the hearing, Senate Democrats said they will file a legal challenge to the subpoenas before the Commonwealth Court.
“The investigation into our voting system is going to be a fight,” Senator Ward said. “We need to find out what is working well and what is working poorly so we can improve our election process. That cannot happen without the full picture from the people who are directly involved with setting the rules for our elections.
“In the days and weeks leading up to the election, the Department of State fundamentally and repeatedly altered the way Pennsylvania’s elections were conducted. The state election laws specifically state – and the courts have upheld – that the time, place and manner of elections is the sole responsibility of the General Assembly, certainly not the responsibility of a hyper-partisan Department of State.
“I want answers from the department to questions of how a responsibility that so clearly falls to the General Assembly reconciles with ever-changing guidance being issued by the Department before and after the November 2020 election. It is a shame that we need to issue subpoenas and then fight in the courts to achieve this.”
Contact: Cheryl Shriner