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GOP requests voter information

Senators want probe of election

HARRISBURG — Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate prepared Wednesday to test how far they can go in pursuing what the GOP calls a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election, as Democrats accused them of helping perpetuate the “big lie” of claims that former President Donald Trump was cheated out of victory.

The Republican-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held a party-line vote to issue a subpoena for detailed state election records, including the names of who voted in last year’s presidential election, their birth date, address, driver’s license number, and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Pennsylvania law prohibits the public release of a voter’s driver’s license number and Social Security number, and Senate Democrats said they will go to court within days to contend that the demand violates the separation of powers and the authority of lawmakers.

It’s not clear whether Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration will provide the information or can be forced to produce it, even by court order. The Senate subpoena gives a deadline of Oct. 1.

The majority of the information being requested is already available to the public, said Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat.

But, Shapiro said in a statement, “voters’ private and sensitive information is also being requested. We will do everything within our power to protect Pennsylvanians’ personal data.”

Democratic lawmakers warned that sensitive information on voters could fall into the hands of Trump allies still intent on overturning the election, likening it to the Arizona Senate GOP’s widely discredited and partisan election “audit” that critics say is a fruitless search for fraud to legitimize Trump’s conspiracy theories.

Republicans insist the undertaking has nothing to do with Trump or trying to overturn last year’s presidential election, but rather is about fixing problems in the state’s elections.

During debate in the committee hearing, Democrats questioned who will have access to such sensitive information and why Republicans wanted it.

“Because there have been questions regarding the validity of people who have … voted, whether or not they exist,” said the committee chairperson, state Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson. “Again, we’re not responding to proven allegations. We are investigating the allegations to determine whether or not they are factual.”

Asked about those allegations, Dush said he had heard of sworn affidavits of people visiting addresses “that were listed for a voter” and found only a condemned building. Dush could give no other details.

State Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, voted Wednesday to subpoena information as part of the ongoing forensic election investigation.

“I have heard from countless constituents wanting answers,” Ward said. “It should be no problem to go over the process and to investigate these questions as I think it speaks to the very foundation of our democratic society.

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