14 hearings were pretense for voter suppression laws

State Government Committee Republican members continue false claims, show contempt for Pa.’s local election officials

HARRISBURG, April 15 – House State Government Committee Democratic Chair Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, today issued the following statement at the conclusion of 14 public hearings conducted on the settled 2020 election.  

“These 14 public hearings staged by the Republican majority over the past three months and at huge taxpayer expense were not at all a ‘deep dive into our election laws of 1937’ but, in fact, were a deep mockery of the hardworking election officials who dutifully carried out our 2020 election,” Davidson said.

“Hearing after hearing, Republicans on this committee, aided and abetted by their chairman, repeatedly engaged in questions and false anecdotes that mirrored the poisonous rhetoric that led to the deadly insurrection at our nation’s capital. Despite knowing what precipitated January’s deadly rampage, Republicans on the committee insisted on spewing the same lies and rhetoric, even as testifiers from some of Pennsylvania’s reddest counties and experts from some of the reddest states strongly pushed back.

“The most striking testimony for me, but largely ignored by my GOP colleagues, came from cybersecurity experts Dr. Clifford Neuman, director of the University of Southern California Center for Computer Security Systems, and Dr. William Adler, senior technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology. Dr. Neuman warned that interference in elections largely comes from false narrative on the internet, narrative that did unbridled harm in 2020. He said local officials play a key part in dispelling dangerous false claims but also can do the most damage in fanning the flames, as my colleagues did, ultimately leading to the violence we have seen. Dr. Adler agreed that local officials have a ‘really important role to play’ in fighting against disinformation about how people vote. 

“Two completely partisan individuals were invited to testify, one particularly egregious, making false claims under oath. I needed to remind him of his oath as he continued to present a partisan opinion paper masquerading as real research making wild unsubstantiated and even ridiculous claims about the 2020 election. These extremists were encouraged by my Republican colleagues, even in the face of knowing that the 2020 election has been studied and scrutinized by multiple cross-partisan entities performing rigorous audits and examinations -- all coming to the same conclusion: that the election was free and fair, and the results are accurate.  

“Most disheartening to me is how my Republican colleagues seemed to ignore over 42 hours of testimony that repeatedly outlined the need for precanvassing of ballots in Pennsylvania. None of the 24-plus bills being introduced by Republican lawmakers address precanvassing, extra resources for election workers or expanded timelines to assist with carrying out elections – the predominant requests in these hearings. Their bills focus on what no one other than the two hyper-partisan extremists they brought in to testify suggested – voter suppression.

“At the outset of these hearings I had hoped that the Republican majority would not push lies to justify bills that would disenfranchise voters. I hoped that the committee would move beyond the settled 2020 election and look toward passing legislation to help counties avoid extreme pressure on our next election day while ensuring voters’ ballot access and rights. But at the conclusion of them, I see now that the Republican majority fully intends to focus on voter suppression. We must continually fight against it.”