Senate Dem Members of Intergovernmental Operations Committee Question Why Senate Republicans are Misusing Committees & State Resources

Harrisburg – Septiembre 9, 2021 – The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held a hearing today to allegedly examine the PA Department of State’s evolving guidance to counties during the monumental 2020 general election. Testimony today from the Chairman of the Fulton County Commissioners and the Board of Elections revealed that despite all evidence indicating the elections in the county were run smoothly with regular communication and information from the PA Dept. of State, investigations occurred on Fulton County voting machines recommended by Senate Republican members with no information on who paid for such investigations.

“It is disgraceful that Senate Republicans have chosen to waste our time calling into question the legitimacy of an election that four of their members on the Intergovernmental Operations committee were elected in, and that have been certified and held up in numerous courts of law,” Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D- Delaware/Philadelphia), Democratic Chair of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, said.

Senate Democratic Leader, Jay Costa (D- Allegheny) continued, “The Intergovernmental Operations Committee should not be examining elections because their committee simply does not have the authority to do so. Despite this fact, we heard in sworn testimony today that the Department of State did their due diligence in effectively communicating with counties about new voting procedures as a result of Act 77 of 2019 and the further implications of an unprecedented global pandemic.”

Fulton County Commissioner and Chair of the county Board of Elections, Stewart Ulsh, said in today’s hearing that in his five years and a half years overseeing elections, he has never had so much contact with the Pennsylvania Department of State. Ulsh stated, under oath, that despite numerous changes to voting procedures as a result of Act 77 of 2019, Fulton County found no fraud in their elections and faced no major challenges in conducting the 2020 elections. 

During the hearing, Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D- Bucks) asked Ulsh about the election assessment conducted in Fulton County by Wake Technology services and published in Febrero of 2021.

Ulsh said that he felt an investigation was needed after the Noviembre 2020 elections, and a member of the Senate Republican Caucus gave him the name of Wake Technology Services for the purposes of reviewing the Fulton County 2020 lection.

Ulsh repeatedly stated that he does not know where the money came from to pay Wake Technology Services, even though they were given full access to voting information in the county, and Ulsh was also unwilling to answer why a draft report of the election assessment was altered before being posted to the county website to include information regarding potential issues with county voting machines.

Despite insistence by Commissioner Ulsh that the report by Wake Technology Systems listed who paid for the assessment, no mention of this is found in the actual report found in full on Fulton County’s website.

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus said they found it extremely disconcerting that information about payment regarding county election assessments is being withheld from the public domain.

Sen. Vincent Hughes (D- Montgomery/Philadelphia) also stated in the hearing that reporting has shown that Commissioner Ulsh, along with fellow Fulton County Commissioner Randy Bunch, contacted sitting Republican members of the legislature to urge them to support the calls of former President Trump and Sen. Doug Mastriano (R- Adams/Cumberland/Franklin/York) to label 2020 as rigged and stolen election, despite absolutely no proof of any wrongdoing.

“There is a nationally-orchestrated effort to deny people the right to vote,” said Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D- Bucks), member of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. “It’s a scam. We are standing up to protect our citizens’ right to vote and not allow some elected officials pick the winners. It’s time for us to focus on protecting our communities, our healthcare system and our economy from the ravages of the pandemic. It’s time for us to focus on helping our residents and businesses racked by the damage of tornadoes and floods that are the effects of climate change.”

Senate Democrats continue to assert that it’s time to move past further review of the fair and credible election results of 2020 and get down to doing the people’s business. This includes actual improvements to the election system that the counties are requesting to assist them in carrying out elections more efficiently. Items like pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots, drop box security and ensuring sufficient resources to support poll workers as well as any new technology requirements are the Democratic Caucus’ priorities.



La senadora Santarsiero presentará un proyecto de ley para que los condados dispongan de 21 días para preevaluar los votos por correo

CONDADO DE BUCKS - 12 de abril de 2021 - El senador estatal Steve Santarsiero (D-10) anunció hoy que va a introducir legislación para garantizar un recuento más oportuno de las papeletas el día de las elecciones, permitiendo a los condados tiempo adicional para pre-controlar las papeletas por correo. La legislación permitiría a las juntas electorales de los condados comenzar el preconteo de los votos por correo a partir de 21 días antes del día de las elecciones.

"Vimos a más de 2,6 millones de residentes de Pensilvania votar por correo en las elecciones generales de 2020, sin embargo, los resultados finales no se conocieron durante cinco días. Si queremos un recuento oportuno de los votos el día de las elecciones, debemos permitir que los funcionarios electorales comiencen a manejar la afluencia de votos por correo antes", dijo el senador Santarsiero.

En 2019, la Asamblea General aprobó la Ley 77 que actualiza el código electoral de Pensilvania para permitir el voto en ausencia sin culpa por correo, comenzando 50 días antes de una elección. El Código Electoral se modificó entonces en abril de 2020 para permitir a los condados comenzar el preconteo de votos, pero no el recuento de los resultados, a partir de las 7:00 AM del día de las elecciones.   

"El cambio al Código Electoral en 2020 fue un buen comienzo, pero como vimos por el tiempo que tomó contar todas las boletas, simplemente no va lo suficientemente lejos como para proporcionar a los condados el tiempo que necesitan para procesar estas boletas", continuó Santarsiero. "Permitir un preescrutinio de 21 días aliviará la carga de los administradores electorales de nuestros condados, que es algo que otros estados con programas de voto por correo han estado haciendo con éxito durante muchos años".

La senadora Santarsiero fue nombrada recientemente miembro del Comité Especial del Senado sobre Integridad y Reforma Electoral, que ha estado escuchando testimonios de administradores electorales de todo el país sobre cómo supervisan las elecciones de forma segura y eficiente. La semana pasada, la senadora Santarsiero anunció que presentaría la Ley de Depósito Seguro, que facilitaría el voto exigiendo que los condados dispongan de un buzón por cada 20.000 votantes.


Senator Santarsiero to Introduce Legislation to Expand Ballot Drop Box Access  

BUCKS COUNTY – Abril 6, 2021 – State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) announced today that he will be introducing legislation to make voting easier for Pennsylvanians.  The legislation, called the Safe Drop Act, requires counties provide a minimum of one drop box for every 20,000 residents.  Moreover, the drop boxes would have to be available to voters 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the beginning of mail in balloting until the polls close at 8:00 pm on Election Day.

“When we make it easier to vote, more people participate in the process, strengthening our democracy,” said Sen. Santarsiero.  “The Safe Drop Act will help ensure all voters are able to return their ballot in a convenient and secure manner, and that ballots will arrive to the Board of Elections in a timely fashion to be counted.”   

In 2019, the General Assembly passed Act 77 updating Pennsylvania’s election code to allow for no-fault absentee voting by mail.  During the 2020 elections, counties established secure drop box locations to allow voters to return their ballots in-person, though the numbers and hours of operation differed county to county.

“During both the primary and general elections last year we saw huge interest in voting by mail,” continued Sen. Santarsiero.  “With concerns about the capacity of the U.S. Postal Service to make sure ballots arrived in time to be counted, ballot drop boxes provided voters with peace of mind that their vote would be counted.”

Sen. Santarsiero was recently appointed to the Senate’s Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform, which has been hearing testimony from election administrators across the country about how they safely and efficiently oversee elections. 

“In the last several weeks I have heard compelling testimony about the effectiveness of ballot drop box locations across the country in increasing participation in our elections.  I will continue to advocate for measures, like the Safe Drop Act, that will increase engagement and make it easier for people to vote, ensuring the voices of all Pennsylvanians are heard through our election process,” concluded Sen. Santarsiero.