July 7, 2021
Committee of Seventy Statement on Sen. Doug Mastriano’s Demand for Election Materials from Targeted Counties
We are deeply troubled by the letters sent by Senator Doug Mastriano to three of Pennsylvania's 67 counties demanding access to a laundry list of election materials and records. This purported effort to restore faith in the 2020 General Election and 2021 Primary Election constitutes an outrageous abuse of power and a waste of already stretched time and resources for the targeted counties.
Local and state officials across the Commonwealth have been clear and consistent for the past 18 months about the real issues in election law and administration that warrant scrutiny and consideration by the General Assembly. All of these issues, in fact, had a thorough airing during a combined 17 public meetings in recent months, between the Senate Special Committee for Election Integrity and Reform, House State Government Committee, and Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board. Still at the top of the priority list is the lack of time that counties have to process mail-in ballots ahead of Election Day and integrity-related provisions like permanently requiring risk-limiting audits—a gold standard practice in confirming election results and used after the 2020 election.
It is striking that access to the sweeping list of records, materials, and equipment detailed in Senator Mastriano’s letters have no apparent connection with the numerous legitimate challenges raised in our current election system and infrastructure. Access to supplemental poll books and SIM cards in Philadelphia, Tioga and York counties will provide no instructive value to the ongoing discussion about pre-canvassing or mail-in ballot deadlines. Instead, this endeavor risks compromising the integrity of these items to an unknown set of actors, as we observed in Arizona and Fulton County, PA, and potentially jeopardizing the ability of these counties’ to implement the upcoming November 2021 General Election.
We strongly encourage these counties to protect the integrity and security of their election materials and decline this request.
The Committee of Seventy is a nonpartisan civic leadership organization that advances representative, ethical and effective government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania through citizen engagement and public policy advocacy.