September 15, 2021
By Nathan Layne
(Reuters) – Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania voted on Wednesday to subpoena the state’s top election official in a review that joins widely criticized efforts in other battleground states to fuel doubts about the 2020 election.
With a 7 to 4 vote along party lines, Republicans in the state Senate committee overseeing the review will issue subpoenas for information on some 7 million voters from Veronica Degraffenreid, acting head of the Department of State.
The move advances what is expected to be an expansive review of the battleground state’s election in November and comes amid similar efforts by Republicans in other key states to promote the baseless claim that former President Donald Trump, a Republican, did not lose.
Trump’s loss in Pennsylvania to President Joe Biden by nearly 81,000 votes was confirmed by multiple audits and certified more than 9 months ago.
The broad array of information sought in the subpoenas includes the driver’s license numbers, addresses, and last four digits of the social security numbers of all registered voters in the state, separated by county and with distinct lists for those who voted in person and by mail.
Cris Dush, the Republican chair of the Intergovernmental Operations committee overseeing the review, said at a hearing that the objective was to verify whether votes were cast by people who “exist” and to look into various allegations made about the election to see if they have any foundation in fact.
The hearing became heated at points, with Dush cutting off the live video feed multiple times as one Democratic lawmaker questioned whether Republicans who attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington would have access to information obtained via subpoena. The rally that day ended with a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol to stop Biden’s victory from being certified.
“We have every reason, every right to be concerned about what happens with these documents, with this information,” said Vincent Hughes, a Democratic member of the committee. “You are asking for prolific personal information.”
Dush said that unlike a widely criticized election audit going on in Arizona, Pennsylvania’s review would be funded by taxpayers. He also promised that he was “not going to be hiring political activists” to carry out the review. He said he was still vetting vendors.
Dush and Jake Corman, the top Republican in the state Senate, said the subpoenas and the broader review were not aimed at reversing Trump’s loss.
“The legislature has no authority to overturn an election,” said Corman, the chamber’s president pro tempore.
(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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