AG Requests Courts Strike Down Voter Subpoenas, Bucks & Mont Co. Chairs Pen Letters of Support
Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) filed a motion Wednesday asking the Commonwealth Court to order that a subpoena issued by State Senators Chris Dush and Jake Corman is illegal. The Senators’ subpoena demands access to personal information of nine million Pennsylvanians, which the Senators then plan to turn over to an unidentified third party.
“Pennsylvanians’ fundamental rights are under attack,” said AG Shapiro.“These Senators are using their position of power to demand voters’ personal information, all so that they may continue to lie about our elections. It is time for public officials to move past the Big Lie and to start reminding the public that our elections are accurate, fair, and secure.”
The motion points out both that Senator Dush (R) has given shifting explanations for why he is demanding voters’ personal information, and also that none of those various justifications have any plausible connection to voters’ identifying information. And neither Senator Dush nor Senator Jack Corman (R) have cited any evidence suggesting why the information is needed.
Meanwhile, Bucks and Montgomery County Commissioner Chairs issued a letter of support for Shapiro’s motion on Thursday in a press release.
The Bucks County Board of Elections takes great care to guard voters’ identifying information and build public confidence in elections, Bucks County Commissioners’ Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia (D) wrote in an affidavit filed late Wednesday. But efforts by state senators to pry voters’ information from the Department of State imperil that goal.
“Recent actions by the Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee to stoke division, distrust and disinformation threaten to jeopardize the trust we have worked so hard to build and preserve,” wrote Marseglia.
Affidavits from Marseglia and Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chair Dr. Val Arkoosh (D) both appear as exhibits attached to and cited in Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s effort to block the committee’s subpoena in Commonwealth Court. As county commissioners, Marseglia and Arkoosh serve on the boards of elections for their respective counties.
In May Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub charged two Bucks County women with attempting to vote when they each signed mail in ballot applications for their dead mothers.
The case against Buckingham woman was dismissed in September by District Judge Mark D. Douple,
The second case against Melissa Fisher of Quakertown is set for trial on November 5. These are the only two cases in Bucks County in which voter fraud had been alleged.
What makes the voter issue situation far more challenging is late Wednesday the Bucks County Board of Elections said it confiscated a “mock” mail in ballot drop box at the Bristol Borough Municipal Building that was alleged to have been placed there by individual who was scheduled to work for the board.
Officials said six voters placed ballots in the mock ballot box before it was removed.
Calls of wide spread voter fraud have been unfounded, despite what Senate Republicans have repeatedly alleged.
Moreover, according to Spotlight PA in the weeks since approving the far-reaching subpoena seeking access to sensitive voter information, GOP lawmakers in favor of the effort have claimed the vast troves of data are necessary to identify voters who shouldn’t have cast a ballot in either the November 2020 or May 2021 elections.
The senators in charge of the investigation have not defined how they will prove a voter is “illegal” if they suspect fraud, nor have they acknowledged that Pennsylvania has already spent $403,904 for access to a sophisticated voter list maintenance program that regularly performs the analysis Republicans say they are seeking, says the report,[The subpoena] threatens to deter eligible voters from registering for fear that their personal information might be exposed to third parties,” Arkoosh wrote, “and may erode the trust already-registered electors have in the elections process by lending legitimacy to false and dangerous claims that the Nov. 2, 2020, election was somehow fraudulent,” the chairs said in a joint press release.
The motion points out both that Senator Dush has given shifting explanations for why he is demanding voters’ personal information, and also that none of those various justifications have any plausible connection to voters’ identifying information. And neither Senator Dush nor Senator Corman have cited any evidence suggesting why the information is needed.
The motion notes that the Senate Committee Senators Dush and Corman are using for this effort has not established basic security protocols that would minimize the risk of unauthorized disclosure or misuse of private voter information. Senator Dush has not even ruled out that he may hire a vendor with connections to some of the biggest perpetrators of the Big Lie to review every Pennsylvanians’ personal information.
As has been noted time and again, including by the former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, “[t]he 2020 election was the most secure in U.S. history.”
Marseglia said that since the subpoena was issued last month, she and other elected officials in Bucks have received complaints from more than 300 county voters expressing concerns about the security of their identifying information. Arkoosh said the Montgomery County Board of Elections has received similar complaints.
Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars on what she described in her affidavit as a “a cynical political stunt,” Marseglia wrote that lawmakers should instead be considering commonsense election reforms – such as allowances for earlier pre-canvassing of ballots – that have bipartisan support among county commissioners statewide.
Opposition to today’s brief is due by October 22, with the Office of Attorney General’s reply due by October 29. The Senate’s final reply is due November 5. Arguments have yet to be scheduled.