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

Harrisburg – September 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 February of 2021.

Ulsh said that he felt an investigation was needed after the November 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.



Statement: Senator Steve Santarsiero Responds to Senate Republican Policy Hearing on 2020 Election

BUCKS COUNTY – November 25, 2020 – The following statement is attributable to Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) in response to the Senate Republican Policy Committee Hearing on November 25, 2020:

“Today, Pennsylvania Senate Republicans will hold a hearing into allegations of voter fraud in this year’s election.  One witness at the hearing will be Rudolph Giuliani.  There is word that the outgoing president, Donald Trump, might also participate.

Two weeks ago, I called on Pennsylvania Republicans, including my colleagues in the State Senate, to repudiate unfounded claims of voter fraud and improprieties that were designed solely to delegitimize this year’s presidential election.  Donald Trump and those closest to him made these claims despite the fact that officials here and in other states had proclaimed this one of the most secure and well-executed elections in our nation’s history.  At the time, I described these attacks as part of a ‘big lie’ that undermined our democracy and, in so doing, threatened to move us toward authoritarianism as has happened in recent years in a number of other former democracies such as Poland, Hungary, Russia and Turkey.  You can view my speech here.

Rather than heed that call, Senate Republicans are redoubling the efforts of Donald Trump’s most debased allies, such as Giuliani, by using taxpayer resources and, more importantly, the imprimatur of state government to further a political strategy that seeks to undermine our electoral system.  I write now not out of fear that this hearing will in any way jeopardize the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States; Trump’s own General Services Administration belatedly acknowledged Mr. Biden’s election this week when it allowed the formal transition process to move forward.  Yesterday Pennsylvania, following several other so-called swing states that Biden won on November 3, certified the election results, effectively awarding Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to the president-elect.  No, I write because the perpetuation of the lie that this election was somehow stolen from Donald Trump – now with the aid of the machinery of state government – has longer-term implications that are not in the interests of any American who wants to see our 244-year experiment in democracy continue for generations to come.

We live in tumultuous times.  Most urgently we face the threat of the first global pandemic in a century and the economic disruptions that is has wrought.  But there are other, longer-term forces that have been and will continue to cause upheaval even after we overcome Covid-19 and its effects.  For over 60 years now the emergence of the global economy has caused dramatic changes here at home as whole sectors of our workforce have been reshaped or completely outsourced to other countries.  If that were not challenging enough, we now find ourselves in the midst of a data revolution that promises to be no less disruptive to broad segments of our working population than the industrial and agricultural revolutions were to earlier societies.  These changes make all of us feel uncertain about the future and lead some people to embrace more extreme beliefs and ideologies that can threaten the stability of even the world’s oldest democracy.

In such an environment, lies that seek to undermine our electoral system are particularly dangerous.  If large numbers of Americans start to question whether we can ever again have a fair election or believe that their preferred candidate for president was somehow robbed of victory, our ability to hold future elections will be compromised.  It is one thing for a narcist like Donald Trump to refuse to acknowledge reality and to lack the character to put the interests of his country ahead of his own (contrast his actions to those of Al Gore when he graciously conceded the 2000 election to George W. Bush), but when other elected officials who know better begin to pander to those with authoritarian tendencies we come perilously close to crossing a line as a nation that we dare not cross.

Neither the presidency of Donald Trump, nor the actions of these Republican office holders have diminished my abiding optimism in the future of America and the world. But no generation that has come before us had the luxury of sitting back while problems worked themselves out, and we are no exception.  If we want to see a brighter future for ourselves and our children and we want democracy to flourish here and continue its ascendency throughout the world, then we must remain vigilant.  Such vigilance demands calling out the big lie when we hear it and holding those who perpetuate it to account.”