Pennsylvania Republicans on Wednesday decided to seek personal information about every voter in the state as part of a partisan review in preparation for the 2020 election results, approving more than a dozen subpoenas for driver's license numbers and partial social security numbers.
The vast request for personal information, addressed in the Pennsylvania State Department and approved in a vote by Republicans on a state Senate subcommittee, is the first major step in the election inquiry. The ruling adds Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that have has embarked on partisan reviews of the 2020 election , including a Senate Democrats have questioned whether the committee even had the power to request such information, which is usually the law public shields , and denounced the investigation as being patently partisan and unfounded.
The subpoenas, 17 in all, also included a request for communication chat relations between state and county election officials. They don 't includenot have requests for electoral machinery or equipment.
Republicans in several states have conducted similar reviews - falsely labeled "audits" to suggest a authoritative non-partisan investigation - in the name of protecting "electoral integrity". Critics have often focused on baseless claims and debunked conspiracy theories about the presidential race, spurred in part by the lies promoted by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies.
President Biden won Pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes , and the results have been reaffirmed by the State Department of the State.
"The entirety of our deliberations today, issuing subpoenastre, is based on such an unreliable foundation, ”said Anthony H. Williams, a Democratic state senator who represents an area near Philadelphia. He added that it was "very disturbing and, in fact, leads us to darker days in this country, like when hearings like these, during the McCarthy era, were held, where the voices were silenced and freedoms were denied, intimidated by the power of government. "
State Senator Jake Corman, the most top House Republican, who approved the review last month, described the investigation as a simple attempt to educate about future legislation and lashed out at Democrats, asking them what they had "Fear". Can make better public policy, "Corman said
A c Democrats' main concern, beyond subpoenas, is was to know whichpeople or businesses could gain access to the store of personal information for the nearly seven million Pennsylvanians who voted in the 2020 election.
Senator d State Steven J. Santarsiero, a Democrat from suburban Philadelphia, has pressed Republican committee chairman, State Senator Cris Dush, who is leading the inquiry, on his selection process. Mr Santarsiero specifically asked if any of the vendors the Republicans are considering had ties to Sidney Powell, the lawyer who popularized many false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
"The answer to this is that I really don't know, because it 's not something that is relevant to my determination " replied Mr. Dush.
" So it 's possible? "Asked Mr. Santarsiero.
" It ' s quite possible " Mr Dush said.
Subpoenas are likely to be the subject of a backlash from the administration of the Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Veronica Degraffenreid, the acting secretary of state, has advised counties not to comply with previous requests for information and electoral machinery from the Republican-controlled State Senate .