The Lead

Shapiro taps former Philadelphia commissioner to serve as Pa.’s top election official

By: - January 5, 2023 9:10 am

Beginning Jan. 3, 2022, Commissioner Al Schmidt will serve as the next president and chief executive for the Committee of Seventy. (Submitted photo)

A former Philadelphia commissioner who faced threats for defending the integrity of the 2020 election against former President Donald Trump and his supporters has been tapped to serve as Pennsylvania’s top election official.

Al Schmidt, the current president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, will be nominated to oversee the Pennsylvania Department of State, which handles elections, as secretary of state, Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro announced Thursday morning.

“Al Schmidt has a proven track record of defending our democracy, protecting voting rights, and standing up to extremism — even in the face of grave threats,” Shapiro, a Democrat, said in a statement. “And I am proud to nominate him to be Pennsylvania’s next secretary of the commonwealth.”

While serving on the Philadelphia Board of Elections, Schmidt was the only Republican and the vice chairman. He gained widespread attention in the aftermath of the 2020 election, facing death threats from those who falsely claimed the results that elected now-President Joe Biden were fraudulent. Schmidt later testified before Congressional committees, including the U.S. House committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Our elections are the foundation of our democracy, and I look forward to working with anyone — regardless of party — to ensure they remain free and fair here in Pennsylvania and that we do more to ensure every eligible voter can make their voice heard,” Schmidt said in a statement.

Shapiro and Lt. Gov-elect Austin Davis will be inaugurated on Jan. 17, vowing to build an administration that “looks like Pennsylvania.” In their first press conference since the November general election, they promised to work across party lines to advance the commonwealth.

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