by Christen Smith
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro challenged a Republican-led election subpoena on Thursday, saying that it “goes too far” and violates the constitutionally protected privacy of up to 9 million residents.
“By trying to pry into everyone’s drivers license numbers and social security numbers they have gone too far,” he said. “Today we say enough is enough. What they are doing is against the law and we intend to win.”
Shapiro filed the lawsuit on behalf of acting Secretary Veronica Degraffenreid and the Department of State after Republicans on the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee subpoenaed her and her agency for the personal information – including names, birthdays, addresses, partial social security numbers and drivers license numbers – of nearly 7 million residents who voted in person and by mail in the last two elections.
Chairman Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, as well as the committee itself are listed as defendants in court documents filed Thursday.
Shapiro, widely considered the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for governor next year, said the lawsuit argues the committee lacks reasonable justification for requesting the information, especially considering it’s based on “disproven” concerns about the integrity of elections conducted in November and May.
He also questioned the constitutionality and riskiness of sharing the information with a third party vendor, as Republicans intend to do as part of an Arizona-style forensic audit.
“All we’re doing is seeking facts, seeking information, so that we can make better policy,” Corman said during the committee’s Sept. 15 meeting. “I want to be clear, the Legislature has no authority to overturn an election … the point is we have a public that is concerned about how the last election was conducted.”
The committee also asked for communications, directives and poll worker training sent between the department and the state’s 67 counties in the months and days before each election. The department was given until Oct. 1 to respond.
The Senate Democratic Caucus also sued to block the subpoena in Commonwealth Court last week. In the complaint, the lawmakers ask the court to halt the subpoena and declare Republican members’ actions unconstitutional and a violation of the audit provision of the state’s Election Code.
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Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.
Photo “Josh Shapiro” by Governor Tom Wolf CC BY 2.0.