Pa. Republicans and Democrats fight over access to private voter information for election investigation

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania judges heard arguments Wednesday in a fight over releasing voter information for an investigation into the 2020 election.

A senate committee led by Republicans is investigating how the state ran last year’s election. They subpoenaed the secretary of state for private voter information.

Senate Democrats and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro don’t think they should get access to that information, so they took them to court to try to block it.

“This isn’t just politics. This is doing real damage to our democracy over a long-settled election that happened more than a year ago and it’s putting Pennsylvanians at risk,” Shapiro said.

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Vic Walczak, legal director with Pa.’s chapter of the ACLU, is part of the team fighting against the subpoena in court.

His side argues they’re standing up for voter privacy. They specifically say there’s no need to give out voters’ driver’s license numbers or the last four digits of their social security numbers.

“They have not explained in any kind of detail exactly why they need those two pieces of information,” Walczak said.

Matt Haverstick, who is an attorney representing the senate committee, says they have explained why.

“To improve voter laws, to fix any flaws in them, to make sure voting is safe, secure, available,” Haverstick said.

Walczak insists releasing the information would be risky.

“Somebody hacks into that then they have access to all nine million records and can do all sorts of damage and there’s no good reason for the committee to get this information,” Walczak said.

Haverstick admits they don’t have everything figured out, but they do plan to limit access to the information.

“We haven’t worked on all the protocols yet or finalized all the protocols, but they won’t be any less strict or onerous than all the other times that the Secretary of the Commonwealth gives out this data to private vendors,” Haverstick said.

They are expecting a ruling from the court in early January. With either side likely to appeal there may not be a final decision for a few months.

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