In This Update:
Safeguarding Our Election Process
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the integrity of Pennsylvania’s voting process during the 2020 Presidential Election, as well as the confusion and distrust that remains today. It is clear that this process is in dire need of repair, and we must work expeditiously to counter the damage that has been done. I stand behind the fact that only legal votes should be counted and violations of the election law should be prosecuted.
Let me be clear, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, with the consent of Governor Wolf, took numerous actions to undermine public confidence in Pennsylvania’s election. Through the Department of State, she issued last-minute guidance that muddied the waters and confused the counties responsible for safely and securely conducting this election.
Her actions were partisan, devious, and deceitful, and necessitate her immediate resignation. I joined my Senate Republican colleagues on November 3rd, election night, in issuing a statement calling for this resignation; unfortunately, Secretary Boockvar continues to enjoy protection from Governor Wolf and has remained in her position, despite her egregious actions.
The confusion she created ranged from reported instances of poll workers being limited in their ability to view ballots’ processing to the courts overstepping its boundaries.
In response, as a member of the Senate State Government Committee, I have been vocal about the need to forensically review and audit the 2020 election process to ensure that every legal vote was recorded accurately. Additionally, we must identify what changes need to be made to restore faith and confidence in Pennsylvania’s election system.
I was a strong supporter of House Resolution 1100, which called for a risk-limiting audit of ballots canvassed in the 2020 election. I am incredibly frustrated that, along a party-line vote, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee voted against conducting this audit. Despite this committee’s failure to act, I will continue to fight for the audit to occur through whatever means necessary. Transparency and accountability are essential to restoring confidence and trust in our elections.
The House State Government Committee recently released its interim report on the challenges that impacted the 2020 election. The report details the changes made to the state’s Election Code throughout the 2019-20 Legislative Session and the impact of court rulings and conflicting guidance to counties from the Department of State. I believe that understanding the challenges we faced going into the election is essential to discovering the truth. As such, I have attached a copy of this report for your review.
During last week’s Senate Policy Committee hearing in Gettysburg, we continued fighting for transparency and accountability. During the hearing, my colleagues and I heard significant testimony that reinforced my suspicions of irregularities in the 2020 election.
I am committed to seeking the truth and holding anyone accountable for any activity that diluted our election’s security and validity.
As we continue to seek this truth, it is important to note that multiple irregularities and inconsistencies are currently under review by state and federal courts. The fact that court cases are ongoing confirms that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s recent certification of the election results was premature. Pennsylvania’s presidential electors do not have to be named until Dec. 12, giving additional time for the courts to resolve election disputes before certification must occur.
Regarding Senate Resolution 410, sponsored by Senator Mastriano, time, unfortunately, was simply not on our side to bring this resolution to a full vote before the current legislative session ended. Per the Pennsylvania Constitution’s provisions, the 2019-2020 legislative session ended at midnight, November 30th, and all legislation, including this resolution, expired.
Regarding the time required to react, a legislative body is at a disadvantage compared to the other two government branches. This is by design. The co-equal legislative branch of government that is tasked with creating law is slow and deliberative to provide ample opportunity for public observation and input into that process.
Unfortunately, throughout 2020, we have witnessed many instances of how the executive branch can alter statewide policy with the stroke of a pen, and the judicial branch can change laws with swift and sweeping decisions following timelines of a court’s own making.
However, these challenges should not deter us from fighting for transparency and accountability, nor should it stop us from accomplishing our three primary duties: to balance power, make law, and most importantly, represent our constituency.
For this reason, I joined with like-minded colleagues in the following actions to ensure every ballot in the 2020 general election was legally cast and is correctly counted:
All three of these letters will be posted on my publicly accessible website for your review.
Additionally, I will immediately introduce legislation for the 2021-22 Legislative Session to restore the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections and ensure the transparency, consistency, and fairness necessary to restore voters’ confidence.
At a minimum, my legislation will amend the Election Code to repeal the portion of Act 77 of 2019, which granted individuals with “permanent mail-in ballot status.” Additionally, this legislation will stipulate that only the Pennsylvania Department of State may send mail-in ballots applications.
Faith in our election process is crucial to our democracy. I remain hopeful that the initiatives outlined above, coupled with additional legislative changes in the short-and-long-term, will once again restore confidence in our democracy and shine a light onto any shadow of a doubt that has been cast over our democratic process.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I look forward to working towards our shared goals and our continued correspondence.
Legislative Leaders Announce Plans to Address Election Concerns
In response to the distrust that grew out of the 2020 general election, Senate and House Republican leaders announced plans this week to restore confidence in the state’s election system and begin the process of making meaningful reforms.
In a statement, legislative leaders said the General Assembly will use its statutory power to review the most pressing issues lawmakers found over the last three weeks of investigation. The issues under review include election security and the manner in which votes are counted, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s management of the 2020 General Election, and the impact of the Judiciary on the 2020 General Election and subsequent candidate legal challenges.
Lawmakers Review 2020 Election Concerns
In the weeks since the 2020 election, hundreds of community residents have contacted me to raise concerns about the way that the election process was handled. Last week, the Senate Majority Policy Committee held a hearing to vet these issues and learn more about the irregularities that have been reported.
Many of the concerns raised during the hearing were the direct result of the blatantly partisan actions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Department of State in the days and weeks leading up to the election. Passing new reform measures to protect the integrity of our elections must be among our highest priorities when the General Assembly reconvenes next month to begin the 2021-22 Legislative Session.
Governor Rejects New Protections for Schools, Businesses, Health Care Providers
As businesses, schools and health care providers continue to struggle from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these organizations face a new threat in the form of frivolous lawsuits related to the virus. The financial consequences of these lawsuits could push businesses to the brink of bankruptcy and cost taxpayers exorbitant sums of money to fight civil actions against schools.
Lawmakers approved a bill recently that would have protected these groups against lawsuits when they acted in good faith and followed the directives of the CDC and the Department of Health. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed the legislation this week, leaving these organizations vulnerable to financial ruin – even when they followed every piece of guidance and every rule put in place by the Wolf Administration.
Legislative Update: 25 Bills Signed into Law
A total of 25 bills approved by lawmakers during the final week of the 2019-20 Legislative Session were signed into law recently, including measures that will:
Details on many of these bills are available at pasenategop.com.
PennDOT Encourages Students to Explore Transportation Funding Challenges
PennDOT’s annual Innovations Challenge program invites students in 9th through 12th grades to explore solutions to real-world transportation problems. This year’s contest encourages students to submit their ideas on how to provide stable and sufficient funding to support critical transportation upgrades.
The deadline to submit an entry is December 18.
Remembering the Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, resulted in the deaths of more than 2,400 Americans and is widely considered one of the key turning points in World War II. Each year on December 7, the nation pauses in reverence for those who lost their lives on that fateful day.
More details on scheduled events in observance of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day are available through the National Park Service.