Voting Election Reforms

Philadelphia election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots for the general election, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Nov. 3. — AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File

Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, according to certified results.

Yet Republicans in Pennsylvania’s state Senate continue to pursue what the GOP calls a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election.

Democrats are right in accusing their Republican counterparts of helping to perpetuate the “big lie” of baseless claims that Trump was cheated out of a victory.

The Republican-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee held a party-line vote last week to issue a subpoena for detailed information on who voted in last year’s presidential election, including their driver’s license number and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Pennsylvania law prohibits the public release of a voter’s driver’s license number and Social Security number. But that’s not stopping Republican lawmakers from seeking sensitive information on voters.

Republicans want to know by what method each person voted, whether in-person or by mail, absentee or provisional ballot, as well as information on when each registered voter last cast a ballot. The subpoena also seeks records of communication between state and county election officials.

Republicans insist the undertaking has nothing to do with Trump or trying to overturn last year’s presidential election. OK, sure.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is right to accuse Republicans of undermining democracy, capitulating to Trump’s conspiracy theories and perpetuating lies that led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Senate Republicans would rather cater to the fringe elements of their party who still are perpetuating the Big Lie rather than focus on issues that affect Pennsylvanians’ lives,” Wolf said in a statement.

The “forensic investigation” or “audit” has been propelled by Trump’s most ardent supporters in battleground states where he lost. The audit effort has even drawn criticism from establishment Republicans that Pennsylvania is following in the footsteps of the widely discredited partisan audit effort in Arizona. The Arizona audit began in January with subpoenas and fruitless searches for fraud to legitimize Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories that the election was rigged against him. That audit is still going on.

The taxpayer-funded undertaking in Pennsylvania could cost millions of dollars and Republicans have yet to answer questions about how it will work, who will work on it and where.

The sham audit is a costly and wasteful abuse of Pennsylvania taxpayers’ money.

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