PA Election Investigation — Restoring Faith in Our Elections
In order to identify and address election irregularities and strengthen our voting laws, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee is conducting a thorough investigation into the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary Election.
Our work will build upon previous reviews by the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform and the House State Government Committee. However, our approach will be focused on digging much deeper into the problems and irregularities that have been reported in the system and working to rectify those issues.
Senator Cris Dush
A Responsible, Thoughtful and Transparent Investigation
The investigation will include public hearings, eyewitness testimony from Pennsylvanians, a deep-dive review into our voting system, and recommendations for legislative improvements. The goal is to create a fair, transparent process everyone can believe in.
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The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee met on September 15, 2021, to approve a subpoena for data, communications and other materials from the Pennsylvania Department of State.
This information will be critical to the committee’s review of our elections, providing a clearer picture of potential problems with the state’s voter registration system and any other voting irregularities.
Submit Your Testimony Now
Gathering firsthand testimony from Pennsylvanians is an important part of the investigation. If you witnessed or were personally and directly affected by election improprieties, please consider sharing your stories here.
Please note testimony is only being accepted if you are willing to sign a sworn affidavit and potentially testify at a future hearing.
A Crisis of Confidence in PA Voting Systems
Public opinion polls have revealed a troubling crisis of confidence in our election system.
Without a thorough investigation of our elections, these problems will continue to fester and discourage participation in the democratic process.
Election Action Timeline
August 24, 2020 – Senate introduces election reform legislation that contains:
- Mail-in and absentee ballot signature verification
- Poll watcher & worker reforms
- Opportunities for voters to obtain ballots earlier
- Mail-in/absentee ballot application deadline
- Secure ballot return locations
August 27, 2020 – Governor outlines election reforms that mirrors Senate legislation.
September 2, 2020 – House passes House Bill 2626, a similar bill to the one proposed by the Senate. Governor Wolf vows to veto the bill.
Week of September 14, 2020 – Negotiations near completion on an election reform bill that will pass the House, Senate, and be signed by the Governor.
September 17, 2020 – The PA Supreme Court (PASC) rules on election reform lawsuits, and Senate Republican leaders issue a statement in response: PA Supreme Court Ruling Undermines Election Security. The ruling derails all negotiations for an agreed-to election reform bill. The PASC rules:
- Drop Boxes – were permitted because the Election Code allowed returns of ballots to “the county board of election,” which is permitted under the Code to operate out of its office and other locations it may choose – which could include utilizing drop boxes if it so chooses.
- Deadline for Return of Absentee/Mail-in Ballots –
- All ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by the Board of Elections by 5 pm on the Friday following the election would be counted,
- Ballots postmarked after Election Day would not count regardless of when they are received,
- Any ballot received by 5 pm on Friday following the election would count even if it did not have a postmark as long as there was no other indication that the ballot had been submitted to the postal service for delivery after Election Day (i.e., if the ballot was dated after Election Day by the voter).
- Curing Defects in the Absentee and Mail-in Ballots – failure to submit a ballot in the required secrecy envelope or with a completed declaration would invalidate the ballot, as the Election Code did not provide for a process that the ballot could be cured; any such notice and cure process would need to be legislated.
September 22, 2020 – Senate Republicans file with PASC for a stay of their September 17 decision on the extension of the deadline for the receipt of ballots. This was a required step before they could file with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
September 28, 2020 – Senate Republicans file with SCOTUS for a stay of the PASC decision on the extension of the deadline for the receipt of ballots. They file an appeal of that ruling at the same time.
October 10, 2020 – A federal judge in Western District Court dismisses Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to block drop boxes, require signatures on ballots, require matching signatures, and non-resident poll watchers.
October 17, 2020 – After being denied intervention by the PASC in the signature matching case for which they accepted Kings’ Bench; Senate Republicans file an amicus brief arguing PA Election Code requires signature matching.
October 23, 2020 – Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman issues a statement in response to a PASC decision on signature verification: Supreme Court Issues Decision Based on Boockvar’s Interpretation that Signatures Required on Mail-In Ballots are Meaningless.
October 23, 2020 – Commonwealth Court and federal court issue decisions on poll watchers. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and a Judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania find that the offices and satellite offices of the County Boards of Elections were not polling locations at which poll watchers were permitted.
October 28, 2020 – SCOTUS takes up constitutional concerns raised by Senate leadership:
- SCOTUS declines to expedite a hearing but said guidance by Boockvar indicated that late-arriving ballots would be segregated meaning our Constitutional concerns could still be addressed after the election.
- Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas indicate there was a ‘strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution’ and they may hear this case after the election.
November 2, 2020: The Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kathy Boockvar, issues an email late in the evening to County boards with conflicting and confusing guidance on ballot curing. The email suggests that County boards could contact voters to notify them that their ballot had been rejected so that they could go to the polls on Election Day to vote by provisional ballot. The PASC had previously found that the failure to submit a ballot in the required secrecy envelope or with a completed declaration would invalidate the ballot, as the Election Code did not provide for a process that the ballot could be cured; any such notice and cure process would need to be legislated.
November 3, 2020 – Senate Republican leadership issue a statement calling for Boockvar’s immediate resignation.
November 3, 2020 – General Election Day.
November 4, 2020 – Majority Leader Jake Corman hosts a news conference to outline the litany of election concerns and reiterate his call for Boockvar’s resignation.
November 6, 2020 – Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman hosts a news conference on preserving the integrity of PA election results.
November 6, 2020 – Corman voices support for Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler’s call for an audit of election results prior to certification.
November 6/7, 2020 – SCOTUS issues a decision saying it was not aware of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s original guidance, which had an ‘important bearing on the question whether to order special treatment of the ballots in question had been modified.’ Senator Corman issues a statement on how this decision underscores concerns about Boockvar’s constantly changing guidance.
November 12, 2020 – Senate Republicans file an amicus brief in support of a Trump campaign filing in Middle District Court. The Trump campaign case says that some counties (Democratic leaning) allowed voters to “cure” ballots that were going to be disqualified while other counties (Republican leaning) did not allow it. The basis of the filing is that “curing” is not permitted under Pennsylvania law. Judge Brann ultimately dismissed the case with prejudice on November 21, 2020.
November 23, 2020 – Results of the election are provided to the Secretary of the Commonwealth by the counties as “certified”; if there is no contest in the courts to an election, the Governor shall notify the federal government which slate of electors have been chosen by the state.
December 2, 2020 – Senators David Arnold (R-48), Doug Mastriano (R-33), and Mike Regan (R-31) introduce legislation to amend the PA Constitution, regarding when Members of the General Assembly are seated, to allow for December session dates. The motivation for this legislation arose when Pennsylvanians demanded the PA Senate vote to send a different slate of electors to DC following the 2020 General Election. Currently, the PA Constitution states that the Members of the General Assembly begin their term of service on the first day of December, following the election. But, those same members are not sworn-in until the first Tuesday in January, meaning that only 25 Senators and 0 Representatives in the House are actually sitting members able to vote on issues for the month of December between legislative sessions.
December 3, 2020 – In response to the distrust that grew out of the 2020 general election, Senate and House Republican leaders announce plans to restore confidence in the state’s election system and begin the process of making meaningful reforms, including:
- The security of voting and manner in which votes are counted,
- The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s management of the 2020 General Election, and
- The impact of the state’s Judiciary on the 2020 General Election.
December 7, 2020 – PA Senate Republicans refuse to defend Act 77 and its mail-in balloting provisions in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court because Secretary Boockvar used the PASC to legislate, rewrite, and manipulate the law to gain political advantage. Blatantly partisan actions undermined the integrity and confidence in PA’s election.
December 8, 2020 – The “Safe Harbor” deadline – if contests of elections have been finalized by this time and results determined by this date, the results of the election (and therefore the selection of the slate of electors) will be deemed conclusive and cannot be subject to challenge. It is the Governor’s obligation under federal law, to notify the federal government of the results of the challenge and which slate has been chosen at the conclusion of those challenges.
December 10, 2020 – Senate Republicans file an amicus brief before SCOTUS as part of a case filed by officials in Texas. The brief took no position on the merits but reiterated that the General Assembly has the authority to set the time, place, and manner of elections and the PASC and Secretary of State have usurped that authority.
December 14, 2020 – Presidential electors assemble in Harrisburg at noon to officially vote.
December 18, 2020 – Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) announces his intent to introduce legislation that that will help to reconcile any errors, duplicate files, or irregularities within Pennsylvania’s voter registration records.
December 21, 2020 – Senator Corman announces he will introduce a resolution to create a bipartisan Special Committee to conduct an exhaustive review of all aspects of the 2020 general election.
December 23, 2020 – Deadline for reporting the official vote of the electors.
January 6, 2021 – Congress meets in DC for a joint session to count electoral votes and declare election results. If there is a challenge to the electoral vote returns of a particular state, the two Chambers meet separately to decide whether the challenge is valid. The results certified by the Governor will stand unless both Chambers agree that the challenge has merit.
January 20, 2021 – Senators Michele Brooks (R-50), Doug Mastriano (R-33), and Scott Hutchinson (R-21) introduce legislation that would require the PA Department of State to submit a report to the General Assembly regarding how certain complaints relating to the November 3, 2020 general election were investigated.
February 10, 2021 – Senator Bob Mensch (R-24) introduces legislation that would remedy a current issue within our election law regarding a voter’s permanent absentee voter status.
March 10, 2021 – Senator Judy Ward (R-30) introduces legislation that would reform Pennsylvania’s absentee and mail-in ballot voting system to help ensure the integrity of our election process in the future given the concerns raised during the 2020 Presidential Election.
March 11, 2021 – The bipartisan Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform holds its first hearing on best practices of election integrity and security from other states.
March 15, 2021 – Senator Judy Ward (R-30) introduces legislation that would apply the voter ID requirement to each and every election and includes both photo and non-photo options on the list of acceptable forms of ID.
March 15, 2021 – Senator John Gordner (R-27) introduces legislation that would move up the date of our Presidential primary election in the Commonwealth. Under existing law, the primary takes place on the fourth Tuesday of April. In most Presidential elections, the outcome is largely decided before our voters have a chance to cast their vote.
March 22, 2021 – The bipartisan Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform holds its second hearing on state and local insight on the administration of elections in Pennsylvania.
April 1, 2021 – Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) introduces legislation to ensure clarity and security for mail-in and absentee ballots to restore voter confidence in our election process.
April 6, 2021 – Senator Mensch (R-24) introduces legislation requiring the Auditor General to perform an audit of ballots canvassed in the 2020 General Election.
April 14, 2021 – Senator Bob Mensch (R-24) introduces legislation requiring the Auditor General to perform a risk-limiting audit of ballots canvassed in the 2020 General Election. In the past, Auditor Generals have attempted to perform similar election audits without the cooperation of the Department of State, as they’ve refused to share critical information necessary for the Auditor General to perform a thorough audit.
April 16, 2021 – Senator Mastriano (R-33) introduces legislation to create flexibility for poll watchers and allow them to perform their duties on Election Day.
April 19, 2021 – The bipartisan Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform holds its third hearing on insight on the administration of elections in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties.
May 6, 2021 – Senator Michele Brooks (R-50) introduces legislation that would direct a hotline and a website be set up within the Office of the Auditor General where Pennsylvanians can report election fraud allegations as well as questionable practices contrary to the Pennsylvania Election Code.
May 21, 2021 – To address the procedural issues voters experienced in the two most recent elections since no-excuse mail-in ballots were introduced in Pennsylvania, Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) circulated a cosponsor memo for his legislation that would suspend the use of no-excuse mail-in ballots until spring 2023 or until elected leaders make necessary adjustments to Act 77 of 2019.
June 11, 2021 – The bipartisan Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform issues its final report on its findings and accompanying legislative recommendations to improve the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections.
June 22, 2021 – The House passes House Bill 1300, a comprehensive election reform bill that would:
- Establish an early voting period to begin in 2025,
- Allow voters with disabilities to move to the front of the line at polling places,
- Provide for and securing election drop boxes,
- Set standards for counting all votes including allowing non-fatal defects on mail-in ballots, such as unsigned or undated ballots to be corrected,
- Ensure voter verification through an updated county-provided voter registration card,
- Create an election fraud hotline,
- Create a ballot tracking system for mail-in and absentee ballots,
- Ban private donations to counties for election administration, and
- Double penalties for Election Code violations.
June 25, 2021 – The Senate passes House Bill 1300.
June 30, 2021 – Governor Wolf vetoes House Bill 1300.
July 10, 2021 – Senator Corman issues a statement responding to the Department of State’s directive that orders counties not to allow for a review of electronic voting systems.
August 20, 2021 –Senator Corman appoints Senator Cris Dush (R-25) as chair of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee to get results the people of Pennsylvania can believe in.
August 23, 2021 – Senator Corman issues a statement supporting a careful, thoughtful investigation as necessary to restoring faith in our elections.
September 2, 2021 – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee creates a special webpage for Pennsylvania residents to submit sworn testimony regarding problems they have personally experienced with the state’s election system.
September 9, 2021 – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee holds a public hearing on the Investigation of the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary Election. The Department of State refuses to participate.
September 15, 2021 – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee votes to issue subpoenas for a variety of different materials from the Pennsylvania Department of State.
September 17, 2021 – Senator Argall (R-29) and Senator Street (D-3) introduce legislation to implement some of the recommendations from the final report issued by the Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform. The bill (Senate Bill 878) will address pre-canvassing, tracking, and counting mail-in ballots; application deadlines; eliminating the permanent mail-in list; real-time reporting of deceased voters; 24/7 drop box surveillance; and training election workers.
September 21, 2021 – Four updates to Pennsylvania’s election code were passed out of the Senate State Government Committee with strong bipartisan support:
- Senate Bill 428, sponsored by Senator John Gordner (R-27), moves up the date of the Presidential Primary Election.
- Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Senator Pat Browne (R-16), requires the electronic filing of campaign finance reports.
- Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Senator Scott Martin (R-13), changes the number of write-in votes to qualify as a winner of an election.
- Senate Bill 551, sponsored by Senator Scott Martin (R-13), would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to remove the requirement for a separate ballot for judicial elections. These bills now move to the full Senate for their consideration.
September 23, 2021 – The Senate State Government Committee hosts a public hearing to receive comments on Senate Bill 878, legislation to implement recommendations of the Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform.
October 1, 2021 – Senator Cris Dush (R-25) issues statement assuring Pennsylvanians that their personal information will be kept safe and secure and condemns political scare tactics that just get in the way of good government.
October 5, 2021 – The Senate State Government Committee hosts a public hearing to receive comments from the Pennsylvania Department of State on Senate Bill 878, legislation to implement recommendations of the Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform.
October 22, 2021 – Commonwealth Court filing reaffirms the Legislature’s authority to conduct an election investigation.
November 19, 2021 – Envoy Sage is selected as vendor to conduct impartial investigation of Pennsylvania’s elections.
January 10, 2022 – Commonwealth Court upholds the authority of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee to issue a subpoena for voter records as part of its investigation of recent elections.
January 14, 2022 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court halts the collection of data from the machines by Envoy Sage, working in connection with the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, just hours after a lower court ruled the process could move forward.
January 20, 2022 – Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) introduces legislation to clean up voter registration records by requiring regular audits and prohibiting government entities from withholding the data necessary to conduct those audits.
March 11, 2022 – Senate Republicans file a petition to compel the Department of State to comply with the subpoena issued by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee for information relevant to the committee’s election investigation.
March 29, 2022 – The Senate State Government Committee hosts a public hearing on Senate Bill 878, legislation that would implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Election Integrity & Reform.
March 31, 2022 – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee hosts a public hearing on ballot drop boxes.
April 5, 2022 – The Senate State Government Committee hosts a public hearing on two election integrity proposals:
- Senate Bill 982 sponsored by Senators Lisa Baker (R-20) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) that would prohibit outside groups from contributing to election operations, and
- House Bill 2044 sponsored by Representatives Eric Nelson (R-57), Clint Owlett (R-68), and James Struzzi (R-62) that would ensure equitable distribution and transparency of private funding grants for Pennsylvania’s elections.
April 6, 2022 – The Senate State Government Committee hosts a public meeting to vote to advance the following election integrity legislation:
- Senate Bill 1018 sponsored by Senator Aument that would help to reconcile any errors, duplicate files, or irregularities within Pennsylvania’s voter registration records.
- House Bill 1614 sponsored by Representative Warner that would increase the required amount of ballots on Election Day in an effort to prevent ballot shortages.
April 8, 2022 – Senate Republicans announce bill to eliminate drop boxes citing evidence of misuse.
April 11, 2022 – The Senate State Government Committee hosts a public meeting to advance three election integrity bills:
- Senate Bill 982 to require elections to be funded only through lawful appropriations by Federal, State or local governments, and imposing a penalty.
- Senate Bill 1200 to require that persons delivering mail or absentee ballots may only deliver such ballots at their county’s primary office, located in the county seat.
- House Bill 2044 to prohibit the Secretary of the Commonwealth and county election officials from accepting private donations or contributions for the operation of elections.
April 13, 2022 – The Senate votes to ban unsecured ballot drop boxes (Senate Bill 1200) and private funding of election operations (Senate Bill 982).
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are lawmakers trying to get my Social Security number and Driver License number?
That information is necessary to help identify any duplicate registrations, fake registrations, and any votes resulting from those ineligible registrations. Having that information allows us to complete a thorough investigation to ensure every vote cast in every election comes from a living, legal, registered voter.
The General Assembly having this information is no different than any other branch of government having this information. Lawmakers frequently have access to this type of information to help constituents manage problems with the Unemployment Compensation system and other concerns, and no problems have been reported.
Hasn’t the state already conducted two audits?
The two audits mandated by the state were completed, but were limited in size and scope. These reviews are routine and not designed to address broader concerns about election security and integrity. Our investigation and audit are intended to go much further.
How will the investigation be funded?
The investigation will be funded through Senate accounts. As such, every effort will be made to minimize costs while still providing a thorough examination of our elections.
Will you do the same type of audit as Arizona?
Although we have learned valuable lessons from Arizona, the process will differ in many ways. We will work with the vendor to determine best practices and allow the investigation to follow wherever the evidence leads.
Vendor Frequently Asked Questions
What experience does the vendor have in investigating elections?
The team at Envoy Sage has decades of experience in research, investigation, program management, and communications, all of which will be necessary to conduct a thorough review of Pennsylvania’s elections. Their team includes analysts, technical professionals, and digital forensic experts who honed their skills during nationally directed operations.
How much is the vendor being paid?
The contract language, available here, shows a cost of approximately $270,000.
Who chose the vendor?
Senator Cris Dush (R-25) in consultation with Senate leadership and Republican members of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee chose the vendor through a rigorous process where merit, competence, impartiality, political affiliations, and more were considered to ensure that the vendor would be more than capable of conducting a fair and thorough investigation of Pennsylvania’s elections.
How will the vendor protect my personal information?
Envoy Sage is well-suited to protect the personal information of Pennsylvania voters, as they not only have handled sensitive information for government agencies, but also have kept classified information safe for the Department of Defense. In fact, much of their team either previously or currently maintains high-level clearances to complete investigations for the most senior levels of government.
Furthermore, the language protecting voters’ personal information that is included in the Senate’s contract with Envoy Sage is consistent with the language that the Pennsylvania Department of State uses when they contract with third party vendors to maintain the State Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) system. If this language is strong enough to safeguard sensitive voter information with the Department’s third-party vendors, then it’s strong enough to do so for this investigation too.
If you would like to learn more about the contract restrictions placed on the vendor and the protections added to safeguard personal information and taxpayer dollars, the contract language is available here.
What political affiliations does this vendor have?
None – they are not political. The vendor has never worked for a political party or candidate and does not engage in political advocacy. They have worked with the Department of Defense for both Democrat and Republican Administrations. Furthermore, the contract explicitly prohibits the vendor from engaging in any future political activities to ensure this investigation is completed in a professional, non-partisan manner.
If you would like to learn more about the contract restrictions placed on the vendor and the protections added to prohibit political activities, the contract language is available here.
How can we be sure this vendor will conduct a fair, thorough, and objective review of Pennsylvania elections?
Envoy Sage is committed to conducting a fair, thorough, and impartial investigation into Pennsylvania’s elections. With decades of experience working under both Republican and Democrat Administrations at the federal level and no political affiliations clouding their judgement, Envoy Sage is entering into this project with no pre-conceived notions for what they will or will not find as they investigate the Commonwealth’s election systems and data. Envoy Sage’s team includes analysts, technical professionals, and digital forensic experts who investigated countless matters of national significance throughout their careers.
Envoy Sage’s impressive and extensive investigative resume, coupled with the strict guidelines baked into the contract to ensure that the investigation is impartial and thorough, speaks to Envoy Sage’s ability to produce legitimate and useful results.
If you would like to learn more about the contract restrictions placed on the vendor and the protections added to prohibit political activities, protect the personal information of Pennsylvania voters, and ensure a fair and objective review of our elections, the contract language is available here.
How long has this vendor been in the business of conducting investigations?
Envoy Sage personnel have decades of experience in research, investigation, program management, and communications, all of which will be necessary to conduct a thorough review of Pennsylvania’s elections. Envoy Sage’s team has been involved in conducting high-level investigations through many iterations of the company. The President only recently sold his previous investigative and analytics business and merged it with another company because it was so successful.
Committee Videos & Hearings
Meet Chairman, Senator Cris Dush
In the News
The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee will meet on Wednesday, September 15, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 8E-B of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg to vote on subpoenas as part of the committee’s investigation into recent elections.
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.
Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Invites Public to Submit Sworn Testimony in Election Investigation
The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee has created a special webpage for Pennsylvania residents to submit sworn testimony regarding problems they have personally experienced with the state’s election system, according to Committee Chair Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson).
“The people of Pennsylvania are experiencing a crisis of confidence in our elections, and I take my newfound responsibility to conduct an election integrity investigation very seriously.