(By Christen Smith – The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s election audit remains on hold this week as Senate Republicans defend their subpoena for voter records that Democrats contested in Commonwealth Court as unconstitutional.
“Our filing on Friday is scheduled as part of an expedited review petition to the court that is designed to resolve the court case as quickly as possible,” said Sen. Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, of the audit on Thursday.
Dush leads the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee charged with handling the controversial probe. In its Sept. 15 subpoena, the committee asked for personal identifying information – including names, birth dates, addresses and partial social security numbers – for up to 9 million registered voters.
Dush said the information will help auditors verify the identity of each and every resident who voted in the 2020 general election and 2021 primary election.
Five days later, Democrats filed a legal challenge in Commonwealth Court against what they called a constitutional overreach that jeopardizes the safety of voters’ personal information. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is running to succeed Gov. Tom Wolf in 2022, joined in the challenge the following week.
“By trying to pry into everyone’s driver’s license numbers and social security numbers they have gone too far,” he said. “Today we say enough is enough. What they are doing is against the law and we intend to win.”
Dush said Friday that subpoena transfers voter information from one government entity to another – and it doesn’t violate the constitution to do so. In legal filings, the caucus said the Department of State provided the same exact information to the League of Women Voters when the group challenged the state’s voter ID law in 2021.
“If they gave that information to a private third-party group then, how can they possibly argue against transferring that data to another coequal branch of government now?” Dush said.
The filing also points to a 2019 investigation by then-Auditor General Eugene DePasquale that reviewed the same data to determine thousands of residents were listed multiple times on the state’s voter rolls, theoretically giving them the ability to cast more than one ballot in an election.
For Democrats, however, concerns abound about how a third party vendor would secure the personal information once it’s shared.
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