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GOP aims to advance election investigation with subpoenas

HARRISBURG (AP) — Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate are pushing forward what the GOP calls a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election, scheduling a Senate committee meeting for next Wednesday to vote on subpoenas.

It is another sign that Pennsylvania Republicans will follow in the footsteps of Arizona’s Senate GOP, whose widely discredited and partisan election “audit” began with subpoenas in search of fraud to legitimize former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories that the election was rigged against him.

The newly scheduled meeting came after the top Republican in the chamber, President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, said Friday that he wants to issue subpoenas for information and testimony from top state election officials and the state’s voter registration system.

In his statement, Corman also said the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee — which plans to meet Wednesday — should “take other steps necessary to get access to ballots and other voting materials to begin a full forensic audit of the 2020 General Election.”

In its online agenda, the Republican-controlled committee said it will meet “to consider a motion to authorize the issuance of subpoenas,” but did not give further details.

Democrats have vowed to fight any subpoenas in court, and say the Republicans’ aim to get a hold of ballots would violate a voter’s constitutional right to keep their voting choices a secret.

Election officials from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration declined to testify before the committee Thursday.

The undertaking in Pennsylvania could cost millions of dollars, and Republicans have yet to answer major questions about how it will work, who will work on it or where a potentially vast amount of documents and equipment will be stored.

The state senator who is chairing the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee at Corman’s behest is Sen. Cris Dush, who visited the Arizona audit and vowed to bring it to Pennsylvania.

Dush, R-Jefferson, was also one of 64 Republicans in Pennsylvania’s Legislature who signed a statement last December urging members of Congress to block Pennsylvania’s electoral votes from being cast for Biden, despite no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.

Democrats say the ultimate goal of the Republicans’ undertaking is to undermine access to voting and eliminate Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said the Republican quest to get ballots “is shocking and a blatant disregard of a voter’s constitutional right that their ballot is secret.”

Costa also said it contradicts statements by Republicans that the aim of the “forensic investigation” is to find and fix election problems, not to rehash last year’s election.

Corman’s office responded Friday to Costa’s statements about ballot privacy by saying that “nothing that has been announced as part of this investigation has the potential to jeopardize ballot secrecy whatsoever.”

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