HARRISBURG – As the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee began its investigation into the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary Election today, key witness testimony was missing due to the refusal of Department of State officials to participate.

The Pennsylvania Department of State was invited more than a week ago to provide testimony regarding the timing and impact of election guidance issued to counties, including controversial guidance issued on the eve of the 2020 General Election that provided a partisan advantage for Democrats and directly contradicted a Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion.

“The power to issue a subpoena isn’t unlimited, and we have to ensure sound legal footing before we go out on that limb,” Dush said. “In addition, we have to be ready, willing and able, to actually review and utilize meaningfully any information that we receive in response to our subpoenas. Having a hearing like the one we’re having today allows us the room to satisfy all of those considerations.”

Fulton County Commissioner Stuart Ulsh testified the guidance was “overwhelming for a small county with a small staff” and caused a significant burden on county election officials.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) shared similar sentiments in written testimony provided to the committee: “In the months leading up to the November 2020 election, counties struggled to keep up with the ongoing (election-related) litigation….and with the guidance issued by the Department of State.” CCAP went on, stating that the counties “also experienced confusion because it was often unclear what statutory basis the DOS guidance had, and how much was truly guidance and/or best practices.”

According to CCAP, “this ongoing uncertainty in the weeks leading up to the November election left numerous questions and anxiety and forced counties to pivot multiple times and up to the very last minute, while also managing the pressures of a highly visible presidential election in the middle of a pandemic.”

The public hearing kicked off the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee’s investigation into the state’s election system.


CONTACT: Jason Thompson