Pennsylvania’s Democrat state Attorney General Josh Shapiro has filed an 80-page explanatory memo in his suit against election integrity subpoenas from the state’s Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee (SIOC):
The corresponding press release from Shapiro stated:
“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 17 subpoenas from SIOC claimed authority to compel the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS) to provide “critical information,” including voter data from the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) system by Oct. 1 as part of a review of the 2020 General election. AG Shapiro filed suit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Sept. 23, saying the subpoenas are illegal. ACLU has filed a motion to intervene, arguing a violation of privacy and Pennsylvania law.
As the Oct. 1 deadline came and went, SIOC Chair Senator Cris Dush responded to AG Shapiro’s lawsuit and claimed that the subpoenas violate privacy in an Op-Ed:
“Many Pennsylvania Democrat Leaders have made wild accusations about what will happen to this data. Senate Democrats said personal information would be exposed. The politicians who are telling these tall tales know there is a better chance of a Pennsylvanian being struck by a meteor. Many members of the media have bought into their false narrative and created doubts in the minds of good, honest citizens.
The reason why the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee subpoenaed this information is to cross match and verify whether or not our voter registration system has duplicate voters, dead voters, and/or illegal voters. Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale—a Democrat—asked for the same information for the same purpose in 2019, when he documented major concerns with the SURE system and the existence of hundreds of thousands of problem records in the system.
Do you remember the outcry from Attorney General Shapiro, PA Senate Democrats, or the media about privacy concerns related to this request in 2019? Me neither. But, what you may not know is that this same crowd prevented him from getting the records after realizing what he was going to find out. Will Governor Wolf and his administration ever let anyone outside his control check on registration integrity?“
Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman voted for and made a statement about the summonses that claimed “clear authority” and called SIOC’s overarching investigation “thoughtful, responsible and legally sound.” He added that “every necessary step will be taken to ensure [voter data] is completely secure” and that his committee would not “leave this information vulnerable like the Wolf Administration during their contact tracing data breach earlier this year.”
SIOC member Senator Judy Ward also voted in favor of issuing the subpoenas. She said in her statement that she had “heard from countless constituents wanting answers,” and SIOC has “every right—and a responsibility—to subpoena this information.” She said the DOS “fundamentally and repeatedly altered the way Pennsylvania’s elections were conducted.” Still, the state law says instead, “the time, place and manner of elections is the sole responsibility of the General Assembly.”
Personal information about voters is not all that the subpoenas demand, but it is not near enough for some. As AuditTheVotePA explains:
“This is a total joke. No actual look at ballots. No actual look at machines. Just state department data that we either already have or we can easily get from a ‘Right To Know’ request. Thank you, RINO Senators in Pennsylvania. You have officially sold out your constituents, and you don’t care about having free and fair elections…sickening.“
Prior to filing his lawsuit, AG Shapiro said, “the majority of this information is publicly available and doesn’t require force to be compelled.” He added, “Instead of a bombshell, [the subpoenas] highlight how Republican leaders in our Commonwealth continue to try and manufacture controversy out of nothing.”
Senator Doug Mastriano, former SIOC Chair, was the man who led a post-election hearing on election irregularities in November 2020 with Rudy Giuliani. In July, he had issued a request to three counties for a wide variety of materials needed for a forensic audit of both machines and ballots that had grassroots support, including AudittheVotePA. The counties were not required to respond to Mastriano’s request, as they would only have become subpoenas with the force of law by a majority vote from SIOC.
That vote never occurred because Corman removed Mastriano from his position as chair in August. His replacement was Dush, who had visited the Maricopa County audit with Mastriano. Instead, Corman called for a September vote to issue subpoenas more limited in scope, and on the fifteenth, SIOC voted in favor. Corman said this step began a process of what was “necessary to get access to ballots and other voting materials to begin a full forensic audit of the 2020 General Election.” Mastriano called Corman’s move “disgraceful,” “reprehensible,” and “petty,” and has appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room to explain multiple times since.
As the new head of SIOC, Dush announced a “special webpage” on Sept. 2 and an invitation to Pennsylvania residents to submit sworn testimony as to any “voter irregularities” or “election improprieties” personally witnessed. The website was said to be part of a “comprehensive election integrity investigation” by SIOC to “help lawmakers develop potential improvements to state law to bolster election security.” Testimony was requested only from those “comfortable signing an affidavit and potentially testifying under oath at a Senate committee hearing under penalty of perjury.”
Dush conducted a hearing with the Department of State (DOS) on Sept. 9 that he said had the aim “to examine the impact of last-second guidance sent to counties before the 2020 General Election.” DOS representatives did not appear. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman made a statement characterizing the absence as “dereliction of duty by Wolf Administration officials.” He added this “continues a troubling pattern of refusing to take accountability for weaponizing an agency that is supposed to be non-partisan.”
AG Shapiro’s current challenge to the authority of the subpoenas and its focus on a tertiary issue was predicted by both Mastriano and grassroots AudittheVote PA. They had been critical of Corman and Dush’s route in that legal challenges might delay it. Audit the Vote PA said, “The state department will fight this in court, which will eat up more time, and if they win, which they probably will, it’s game over.” Mastriano has been quoted as saying, “If the challenge becomes something else [other than his authority to subpoena as Chair of SIOC], obviously that will drag out in court.”
Per AG Shapiro’s press release, response to his memo is due Oct. 22, and final reply Nov. 5.