The Lead

Pa. Senate committee approves Shapiro’s pick for elections chief

By: - June 26, 2023 5:42 pm

Acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt discusses the Pennsylvania’s primary election at the Capitol Media Center on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

(*The headline on this story was updated at 6:01 p.m. on Monday, June 26, 2023.)

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s pick to oversee the state’s elections has cleared a committee hurdle, putting him on track for a confirmation vote by the full state Senate.

The Senate’s State Government Committee voted 10-1 on Monday to approve acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt’s nomination. The former Philadelphia city commissioner, who faced threats for defending the integrity of the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump and his supporters, got the nod from the Democratic administration in early January

The panel’s chairperson, Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, said the vote was “about securing future elections, not disputing the past,” according to a statement. Nonetheless, Dush pointed out that Schmidt, if he wins confirmation, will “inherit all the problems of the past, and under your watch will be assuming accountability and responsibility to try and fix them.”

Earlier this month, Schmidt announced that a statewide audit of the May 16 primary election found “no discrepancies between the original and audited unofficial results,” the Capital-Star previously reported.

The risk-limiting audit required election officials from 14 counties across Pennsylvania (Adams, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Union, Washington, and Westmoreland counties), to hand-tally randomly selected ballot batches before comparing those vote totals to the original machine counts for that race.

According to the department, the races to be audited were determined through a random selection process on May 22. The auditing process was live-streamed by the department on May 25, the Capital-Star reported at the time.

“I want to thank county election officials for their participation in this RLA at a time when they were also busy conducting the 2% statutorily required review that they must perform after each primary and general election,” Schmidt said in a statement at the time. “Because of their efforts and hard work, Pennsylvanians can feel confident in the accuracy and integrity of the commonwealth’s electoral system.”

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.