County Election Officials, Local Leaders Testify at Election Investigation Hearing on the Flaws of Drop Boxes

Testifiers indicate a lack of security, consistency, and transparency with election drop boxes.

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee hosted a public hearing today on the use of election drop boxes in Pennsylvania as part of the committee’s continuing efforts to investigate Pennsylvania’s elections.

While the hearing began with an unfortunate pre-planned disruption from Democratic members of the committee, the testimony resumed smoothly despite the political theater, according to Senator Cris Dush (R-25), chairman of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee.

“It is deceptive for anyone to imply that the testimony given today by county election officials and local leaders was anything other than authentic and true,” said Dush. “The decision by Democratic committee members to abruptly leave today’s hearing was not only unproductive and dramatic, but it was also incredibly disrespectful to the testifiers who want nothing more than to help this committee work towards ensuring election integrity.”

Four testifiers including county election officials and local leaders from around the Commonwealth testified that drop boxes, as implemented in Pennsylvania, are problematic.

“The testimony we received today regarding the blatant misuse of drop boxes throughout this state made several points clear: Ballot stuffing does occur in Pennsylvania, video surveillance alone does not prevent ballot stuffing, and we owe it to the citizens of this Commonwealth to fix the issues immediately,” said Dush. “It’s important for the public to understand that the General Assembly never voted to allow drop boxes in Act 77 or elsewhere, and the utter lack of reliable security surrounding these drop boxes is appalling and unacceptable.”

In her capacity as County Commissioner, Leslie Osche shared testimony regarding the reasoning behind Butler County officials voting against the use of drop boxes after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed them.

“As a Board of Elections, we take seriously our role in protection of the chain of custody of ballots,” said Osche. “But in the instance of mail-in balloting and drop boxes, we as the Board of Elections have no way of protecting that ballot from the time it leaves our Bureau office to the time it is returned. The use of drop boxes does nothing to help us protect ballots, but instead creates just another variable in need of monitoring. At the very least, a U.S. mailbox has federal protections and serious repercussions tied to its use or misuse.”

Another county leader, Joe Vichot, Chairman of the Lehigh County GOP, told the Committee about the discovery of video evidence that depicts ballot stuffing in Lehigh County. He shared the untampered footage during the hearing.

“My suggestion would be to suspend the use of drop boxes until we can get a safe system in place that effectively ensures the security of ballots,” said Vichot.

Jessica Morgan, a Judge of Elections from Luzerne County, also testified of her personal interaction with an individual hoping to stuff a drop box by depositing multiple ballots that did not all belong to them into a drop box. Ms. Morgan said she immediately reported this unlawful activity to the authorities.

Finally, Dr. John Lott, the President of the Center for Crime Prevention, testified to the issues with drop boxes particularly when compared to their use in other countries around the world.

“Ballot boxes facilitate vote harvesting, and vote harvesting facilitates vote buying,” said Lott.

The hearing today was a part of a larger effort to examine Pennsylvania’s elections in order to identify and address election irregularities and strengthen our voting laws.

VIDEO: The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee hosts a public hearing on the use of drop boxes in Pennsylvania as part of the Election Investigation.

Senator Cris Dush (R-25) questions a panel of expert testifiers at a hearing of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee on the use of drop boxes in Pennsylvania elections.

CONTACT: PA Election Investigation

Public Hearing on Ballot Drop Boxes

Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee

Thursday, March 31, 2022 | 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Hearing Room 1 North Office Building and via Zoom

Agenda

Public Hearing on Ballot Drop Boxes

Schedule

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Senator Dush, Majority Chair, Intergovernmental Operations

Senator A. Williams, Minority Chair, Intergovernmental Operations

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Joseph Vichot, Resident, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania – Testimony

10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Jessica Morgan, Judge of Elections, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

Leslie Osche, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, Butler County, Pennsylvania – Testimony

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Dr. John Lott, President, Crime Prevention Research Center     

12:00pm

Closing Remarks/Adjournment

Additional testimony:

Commissioner Stuart Ulsh – Testimony

John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center – Letter

Op-Ed: Don’t Be Fooled by Democrats’ Election Investigation Scare Tactics

By Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson)

Since lawmakers voted to subpoena information from the state’s voter registration system two weeks ago, many Pennsylvania Democrat Leaders have made wild accusations about what will happen to this data when it is eventually turned over by the Department of State.

The Attorney General claims the subpoena will compromise the privacy rights of Pennsylvanians. Senate Democrats said private voting information would be released and personal information would be exposed.

The reality? None of this could be further from the truth

The politicians who are telling these tall tales know there is a better chance of a Pennsylvanian being struck by a meteor than having their personal information compromised by our election investigation. Unfortunately, many members of the media have bought into their false narrative and created doubts in the minds of good, honest citizens.

The reason why the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee subpoenaed this information is to cross match and verify whether or not our voter registration system has duplicate voters, dead voters, and/or illegal voters. Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale – a Democrat – asked for the same information for the same purpose in 2019, when he documented major concerns with the SURE system and the existence of hundreds of thousands of problem records in the system.

Do you remember the outcry from Attorney General Shapiro, PA Senate Democrats, or the media about privacy concerns related to this request in 2019? Me neither.

But, what you may not know is that this same crowd prevented him from getting the records after realizing what he was going to find out. Will Governor Wolf and his administration ever let anyone outside his control check on registration integrity?

The truth is, the legislature has an impeccable record of protecting the personal information of Pennsylvanians.

Every time a constituent has an issue with PennDOT, they share their Driver License number with us. Every time a constituent has an issue with the Unemployment Compensation system, they share their Social Security information with us.

How many times has this information been compromised by Senate Republicans?

Zero.

The idea that this information will be jeopardized is simply not realistic. Our history and our track record bears out those imaginary concerns and improbable hypotheticals.

I have conducted investigations for a significant part of my adult life, both in the military and the private sector. I have yet to allow a single piece of sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands. I will not allow that streak end now.

Senate Republicans have pledged to take every step necessary to protect this information. This includes insisting on contract language with potential vendors to ensure information security; forcing any vendor personnel who accesses this information to sign non-disclosure agreements under penalty of law; and making information security a key consideration as we decide which vendor to select.

The committee will do everything in its power to ensure the vendor that handles this information will keep private information just that – private.

Mark Twain once said it is easier to fool someone than to convince them they have been fooled. That is exactly what Attorney General Shapiro and Senate Democrats are banking on.

My message to Pennsylvanians is this: don’t allow yourself to be fooled. Don’t buy into the disingenuous propaganda of politicians who are actively trying to shield our election system from transparency. Trust me to do exactly what I have been pledging since I took over this effort more than a month ago – to conduct an honest, responsible, secure investigation of our elections, with fidelity.

 

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Senator Dush Urges Public to Submit Sworn Testimony in Election Investigation by October 1

HARRISBURG – Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) is urging Pennsylvanians to submit sworn testimony by October 1 regarding problems they have personally experienced with the state’s election system.

Voters should submit information only if they experienced irregularities or other election improprieties firsthand. State residents can share their stories and contact information at https://intergovernmental.pasenategop.com/electioninvestigation/.

The information will help lawmakers develop potential improvements to state law to bolster election security. The October 1 date matches the deadline for the Department of State to respond to subpoenas issued by the committee last week.

Dush noted that testimony is only being accepted from Pennsylvania residents, and the infractions must have been witnessed in person or affected the state resident personally. In addition, members of the public should submit testimony on the webpage only if they are comfortable signing an affidavit and potentially testifying under oath at a Senate committee hearing under penalty of perjury.

More information about the election investigation is available at www.paelectioninvestigation.com.

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Dush Issues Statement on Inclusion of Personal Information in Subpoena

HARRISBURG – Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) issued the following statement today regarding the inclusion of personal identifying information in subpoenas issued to the Pennsylvania Department of State this week:

“I have been receiving numerous inquiries regarding the personal identifying information requested in the subpoenas that the Intergovernmental Operations Committee issued to the Department of State on Wednesday. Most of this information is available for $20 at your local county board of elections offices.

“I understand why folks are hesitant or concerned in light of the way this issue has been sensationalized by the media. However, the reason for requesting the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number or their Driver License is because it is the best way to determine the accuracy of voter rolls and make sure there are not duplicate, doctored or deceased voters on these rolls. This is the exact reason why the Department of State has the information in the first place.

“Committee staff and I remain committed to using this information only to conduct a thorough investigation and to create legislation to fix the problems we identify. It is the 21st century, and given the technology used in today’s world, poorly kept voter rolls should be a thing of the past.”

 

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Intergovernmental Operations Committee Announces New Election Integrity Investigation Website

HARRISBURG – A day after the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted to issue a subpoena for information related to it election investigation, Chairman Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) announced a new website today that details the committee’s efforts to restore faith in Pennsylvania’s election system.

The new website, www.PAelectioninvestigation.com, includes information on the committee’s investigative process, ways for Pennsylvanians to share first-hand election concerns, frequently asked questions about the investigation, hearing videos, recent news and more.

Since Senator Dush was appointed to lead the committee less than four weeks ago, the panel has held a hearing on election guidance and a voting meeting for the issuance of a subpoena. Senator Dush has also worked to identify and vet potential vendors to complete a thorough investigation of the state’s election system, and created a webpage for Pennsylvanians to report firsthand testimony regarding potential election law violations or irregularities.

 

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Senate Panel Votes to Issue a Subpoena for Election-Related Documents from Department of State

HARRISBURG – To continue its legislative investigation into the integrity of recent elections, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted today to issue subpoenas for a variety of different materials from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Committee Chairman Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) invited Department of State officials to testify at a hearing last week to discuss controversial guidance issued to counties in the final weeks and days leading up to the 2020 General Election. The subpoenas were approved today after the Department refused to participate or answer questions posed by the committee.

The invitation to testify was extended more than a week in advance of the hearing.

“There was no good reason for our invitation to be ignored. We gave the Department of State more time to comply with our request than they gave counties to adjust to their last-second mandates before the 2020 General Election,” Dush said. “Subpoenas were not our first choice of action, but the refusal of the Wolf Administration to work with us in a bipartisan manner left us no other options to get the answers Pennsylvanians deserve.”

The subpoenas will include all guidance issued to counties, as well as all communications between the Department of State and county election officials. All training materials, copies of all guidance and directives to counties are also included.

In addition to subpoenaing information pertaining to the Department’s controversial guidance, the committee also approved subpoenas for key voter data, including lists of all registered voters, voter activity, the method by which voters cast their ballots, and changes in voter registration.

The registration and voter lists will help paint a more complete picture of Pennsylvania’s election system to allow for positive changes to existing law, Dush said.

Key Points

 

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Media Advisory – Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Plans Subpoena Vote September 15

HARRISBURG – 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.

Committee Chair Senator Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) said the subpoenas are expected to include communications and other election records from the Pennsylvania Department of State. The meeting follows a hearing earlier this week in which Department of State officials refused to testify.

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Work Begins on Election Integrity Investigation – Department of State Refuses to Cooperate

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