“That’s a really bad idea to have private information floating around in a Senate caucus,” said Marian K. Schneider, an elections lawyer for the A.C.L.U. of Pennsylvania. “And it’s really not clear how the data is going to be used, who’s going to be looking at it, who can have access, how it’s going to be secured. And it’s unclear to me why they even need the personally identifying information.”
Republicans in several states have pursued similar reviews — misleadingly labeled “audits” to suggest an authoritative nonpartisan investigation — in the name of protecting “election integrity.” The reviews have often centered on baseless claims and debunked conspiracy theories about the presidential contest, spurred in part by the falsehoods promoted by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies.
President Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, and the results have been reaffirmed by the state’s Department of State.
“The entirety of our proceedings today, issuing subpoenas, is based upon such a noncredible foundation,” said Anthony H. Williams, a Democratic state senator who represents an area near Philadelphia. He added that it was “very troubling and, in fact, leads us to darker days in this country, such as when hearings like these, during the McCarthy era, were held, where voices were silenced and liberties were denied, being bullied by the power of the government.”
State Senator Jake Corman, the top Republican in the chamber, who approved the review last month, portrayed the investigation as merely trying to inform future legislation and lashed back at Democrats, asking what they were “scared of.”
“All we’re doing is seeking facts, seeking information, so that we can make better public policy,” Mr. Corman said.
When questioned by Democrats as to why voters’ Social Security and driver’s license information was necessary for the investigation, State Senator Cris Dush, who is leading the review as chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, brought up unspecific and unfounded claims of ineligible voters casting ballots in the Pennsylvania election.