Republicans pushing for election oversight committee


FILE- In this Jan. 15, 2019, file photo an America flag flies at the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State Republicans hope to establish a select committee on election integrity on Thursday, but state Democrats worry it could be a ploy to mess with the election.

Republicans believe it would help keep order in an election-year full of firsts. Democrats think it’s a threat to Democracy.

It’s only fitting that a year like no other has an election to match.

“Every county has new voting machines. We vastly expanded mail-in voting and now, of course, the Supreme Court from last week has sort of thrown a new wrench into the plan that votes can be counted after Election Day,” said Mike Straub, communications director for House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R).

Straub said all the “news” is why the committee is needed.

“We all believe that the election should be accurate, accessible and secure, and if there’s nothing to worry about, then this committee will keep an eye on the process,” Straub said.

Democrats are keeping their eyes on Republicans, saying that the GOP-controlled committee could disrupt the election by subpoenaing ballots and questioning officials on election night.

“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,” The Governor’s Office said in a statement.

“This dangerous and unprecedented power grab by one caucus in the General Assembly holds the potential to create massive chaos by interfering with an election while it’s in progress,” said House Democratic Leader Rep. Frank Dermody in a separate statement.

Straub said, no way.

“That’s completely not possible within the laws of the Constitution. There’s no way we could subpoena unopened mail-in ballots and hold them,” Straub said.

He said they will only look at data the state already collects like how many and when ballots were opened.

“If the county said, ‘we don’t have those numbers’ or ‘we refuse to give them to you,’ we would use the subpoena power to ensure that we get that information,” Straub said. “If you are getting this upset about a committee on election integrity, what are you concerned about them finding?”

If the committee passes, Straub said it’s likely the election committee will take all of their action after election night by making suggestions and watching over mail-in ballots. It will be dissolved at the end of the session, which is Dec. 31.

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