Republicans ramp up attacks on ballot access as hearings wind down

Mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes remain targets of misinformation campaign

HARRISBURG, April 8 – In its second to the last of 14 public hearings on the settled 2020 election, lawmakers on the House State Government Committee learned that other states also ran free, fair and chiefly uniform elections in their states, but Republicans still refuse to accept it, according to the committee’s Democratic chair, Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware.

Davidson said GOP lawmakers on the committee are still using each public hearing to inject their false claims of fraud in the 2020 election. She said legitimate nonpartisan testifiers to date have focused their testimony on ways in which Pennsylvania can look to other states or processes to provide modern resources to county election officials to help with accuracy and efficiency and improve access to voting for all Pennsylvanians. County officials during these hearings -- to a person -- have asked for more time to pre-canvass ballots and other processes to make sure all votes in their districts are counted, such as allowing people to correct incomplete ballots.  

But Republicans on the committee, she said, continue to focus their questions on alleged fraud to set the stage for introducing voter suppression legislation in time for the 2022 midterm elections, when the newly redrawn congressional and state House and Senate legislative districts will be in effect.

“I would hope that at the end of these numerous, duplicative hearings we would not then move as a committee to curtail the civil rights of Pennsylvanians as was done in Georgia,” Davidson said. “Our county officials have spoken. They need relaxed timelines or better timelines to execute the functions they need to do prior to each election. Over and over, they asked for the ability to pre-canvass ballots. At the conclusion of these hearings, I hope that our first order of business will be to pass legislation that covers those concerns, rather than onerous voter ID laws and other restrictions that create barriers to voting.”

Davidson said that while most testifiers at these public hearings have been nonpartisan election officials or experts discussing how to ensure ballot access and security, the Republican majority made sure to bring in so-called experts who align with the lies and half-truths they continue to put forward as fraud regarding 2020. She said at least two testifiers, including today’s representative from the Foundation for Government Accountability, have close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a group that has been pushing voter suppression laws across the nation. 

“The orchestrated testimony from groups like FGA has been disingenuous, racist and full of fiction,” Davidson said. “They are the same lies and rhetoric that led to the deadly insurrection on our nation’s Capitol on January 6. This kind of testimony frankly should be stricken from the record. 

“The useful testimony received in our dozen previous hearings could have been obtained by this committee in one or two hearings. I look forward to the conclusion of this theater so that we can start working on the issues Pennsylvanians need us to address, like giving counties the tools they need for elections and setting up the state reapportionment commission to begin the redistricting process.”