Watch CBS News

Senate Democrats Vow To Block GOP Subpoena Of 7 Million Pennsylvanians' Detailed Voter Information

HARRISBURG (KDKA) - Over objections from Democrats, the Republican-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena election records that include personal information of about nearly 7 million voters who cast ballots in the 2020 presidential race.

Senate Democrats said this fight was just beginning.

Committee chair state Sen. Cris Dush noted what he and fellow Republicans want from the state's top election officials: "A complete list containing the name, date of birth, driver's license number, last four digits of Social Security Numbers and addresses of all individuals who voted."

In a party-line vote, Republicans issued a subpoena to compel the secretary of state to turn over personal data on everyone who voted by mail or in-person in the 2020 presidential race or this spring's 2021 primary.

"In order to determine the necessity and scope in terms of legislative action, it is essential that the legislature have access to the relevant information," Dush of Jefferson County told his colleagues.

Dush said the data will help him and a third party he will hire determine if voter rolls were compromised, but Democrats objected to the breadth of the subpoena.

"For the government to have access to your Social Security Numbers should scare all of us," said state Sen. Anthony Williams, a Philadelphia Democrat.

Democrats criticized Republicans for issuing subpoenas without having yet hired the third party who would have access to personal data.

"You are incapable right now today while we are considering this vote to tell the members of this committee and the public who exactly is going to have access to that information, how that information is going to be used and whether or not that information is going to be made public," said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, a Bucks County Democrat.

"Could be an open invitation to identity fraud. Could be an open invitation to many nefarious things that could occur. That's exactly what our argument is," said state Sen. Jay Costa, the Senate Democratic Leader.

But Dush, who has a law enforcement background, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano that he will not allow personal information to be misused by anyone.

"The investigators we have working on this, I'm doing vetting on making sure that they have kind of similar backgrounds to mine and that they'll ensure the integrity of the data we give to them and the security of them," said Dush. "What we're going to do is we're going to take the information, run data analysis on in and find anomalies."

Dush and his Republican colleagues say the anomalies can be corrected for future elections.

"One of two things can happen. Either we will find things that we can better improve our laws, or we will find nothing and that will dispel a lot of people's concerns," said PA Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican and Senate president.

But Democrats say it's not that simple.

"You are asking this committee to consider the issuance of a subpoena that is requesting personal information about nearly 7 million Pennsylvanians. You have yet to explain who is going to have access to that information," said Santarsiero.

Democrats complained Dush could not identify the outside vendor he is hiring to conduct the forensic audit and suspect Republican motives.

"I clearly believe that former President Trump is playing a role in this process," says Costa.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes, a Philadelphia Democrat, thinks Republicans will use the personal data for their own purposes, prompting an objection from Dush.

Hughes: "When Republican members of the Senate, who will obviously have access to this information, and those Republican members were involved in the insurrection and, in fact, excuse me . . ."

Dush: "Senator is out of line."

Hughes: "I'm not out of line. I'm very much in line."

Costa says he and his colleagues will try to block the subpoenas.

"We're going to ask the court not to sustain these subpoenas, to quash these subpoenas," said Costa.

A motion to quash is expected to be filed by Democrats with the Commonwealth Court perhaps as early as Friday.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.