The Lead

Top Pa. Senate Republican calls for subpoenas for Dept. of State in election probe

By: - September 10, 2021 9:35 am

Pa. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre | Capital-Star file photo

(*This breaking story will be updated)

As expected, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman has called for subpoenas for the Department of State after the agency skipped the first of a series of taxpayer-funded hearings on alleged irregularities in the 2020 and 2021 elections.

“As predicted, the Department of State failed to appear yesterday to provide answers to the lingering questions about their role in creating doubts about the fairness of the 2020 General Election,” the Centre County Republican said in a statement his office issued on Friday morning. “The dereliction of duty by Wolf administration officials continues a troubling pattern of refusing to take accountability for weaponizing an agency that is supposed to be non-partisan.”

The Department of State, which has oversight of Pennsylvania’s elections, declined the invitation of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, citing active litigation, the Capital-Star previously reported.

Pa. Senate committee launches election investigation, beginning with 2020 guidance

In his statement, Corman said the hearing “was an important first step in the process of investigating every aspect of our election system, but it will not be the last.

Pennsylvanians deserve answers about the Wolf administration’s mishandling of our election,” he continued. “I am calling on the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee to meet on Monday, Sept. 13 to vote on issuing subpoenas for information and testimony from the Department of State as well as the SURE system, and to take other steps necessary to get access to ballots and other voting materials to begin a full forensic audit of the 2020 General Election.”

Corman added that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, will have his “full cooperation in achieving these goals.”

During Thursday’s hearing, which also was intended to ferret out examples of alleged fraud, a Fulton County commissioner said that while guidance the Department of State issued ahead of last November’s general election was confusing, there was no fraud.

Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Stuart Ulsh, was the only local official to testify before the 11-member panel.

The south-central Pennsylvania county had its voting machines decertified by acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid earlier this year, after officials agreed to an unauthorized election investigation at the request of Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair.

Two post-election reviews — a statistical sampling required by law and a risk-limiting audit — were conducted after the 2020 election in Pennsylvania. Sixty-three out of the commonwealth’s 67 counties participated in the risk-limiting audit pilot, and neither assessment found evidence of fraud.

Certified results show that Trump lost the 2020 election by 80,555 votes in Pennsylvania. In the same cycle, Republicans triumphed in state races — maintaining their legislative majorities in Harrisburg.

On Thursday, Dush said the panel’s proceedings were “not about overturning the results of any election as some would suggest,” Dush said, adding that the review will not lead to the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump. “That horse is out of the barn as far as this investigation is concerned.”

The Department of State could not immediately be reached for comment.

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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.