PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania Republicans voted Wednesday to subpoena Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration for detailed records of every registered voter in the state, including personal information like the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.
It’s the most concrete step the GOP-led legislature has taken to investigate the 2020 election since the top Senate Republican committed last month to undertaking a review that former President Donald Trump has long demanded as part of his campaign to discredit the results.
Democrats said they will challenge the subpoena in court, blasting the inquiry as a “fishing expedition” and raising concerns about sharing millions of voters’ personal information with an outside vendor that hasn’t yet been selected.
Republicans on the state Senate panel that wrote the subpoena said the documents they’re requesting would help show whether any fraud was committed in Pennsylvania, a state President Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes.
“There have been questions regarding the validity of people ... who have voted, whether or not they exist,” Sen. Cris Dush, a Jefferson Republican and the committee’s chairman, said during a contentious 75-minute hearing. “We’re not responding to proven allegations. We are investigating the allegations to determine whether or not they are factual.”
If the investigation uncovers problems with the voter registration system, Dush said, the legislature has a responsibility to pass a bill to “prevent that from happening in future elections.”
State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, responded: “There have been allegations about last year’s elections. I understand that. They’ve been proven to be without merit. Why do we now need this information?”
There’s no evidence to support Trump’s baseless claims of election rigging, which were roundly rejected by courts and which fueled the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. County and state audits found no issue with the results in Pennsylvania.
Democrats said only the executive branch — not the Senate — has the authority to conduct the kind of investigation Republicans are undertaking.
State Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia, the top Democrat on the committee, called the subpoena a “pure, unadulterated power grab” meant “to suppress voters’ rights.”