PA lawmakers divided on election integrity

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 10/7/20

HARRISBURG, PA — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and runup to the General Election, the left and right of Pennsylvania politics have not agreed on much. From business closures to school …

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PA lawmakers divided on election integrity

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HARRISBURG, PA — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and runup to the General Election, the left and right of Pennsylvania politics have not agreed on much. From business closures to school sports, Republican lawmakers have consistently railed against Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus restrictions. And as the governor has pushed for more leniency and accessibility in the upcoming election, the state’s GOP has decried many of the recent changes as threats to the security and integrity of the electoral process.

Several weeks ago, GOP legislators were prescribed a tough pill to swallow when the PA Supreme Court ruled on the side of Democrats state and nationwide on a number of issues, most notably extending the deadline to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to three days after the election.

The Republican-led House countered last week by passing Resolution 1032, which created the House Select Committee on Election Integrity “to provide oversight of the 2020 election to inform possible legislation before and after the November 3 General Election.” It would consist of five members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives—three Republicans and two Democrats—and have the power to subpoena.

“By legislating from the bench, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that injected chaos into the General Election by creating election procedures not found anywhere in current law and ensuring Pennsylvania—and thereby the nation—will not have reliable results on Election Day,” Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said in a statement. “The House Select Committee on Election Integrity is an integral measure that ensures the legislature can continue to exercise its constitutional prerogative and act as a check on this hijacked process.”

Democratic lawmakers and voters advocacy groups have since voiced their opposition to the committee, like Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia, who called it “a fatal blow to our democracy,” and the League of Women Voters of PA which called it “redundant to existing legal structures” in a recent statement.

Wolf has issued a critical statement of his own in response to the resolution:

“The House Republicans are not only walking in lockstep with President Trump to try to sow chaos and put the results of the election in question, they are also taking steps to take the authority to administer elections away from the Department of State,” he said. “This is an unprecedented attack on non-partisan election administrators at a time when we should all be doing everything we can to instill confidence in our elections.”

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