In recent months, we have witnessed a full-frontal assault on the truth and on our democratic process – an ongoing assault that goes against everything we stand for in this country.
On Jan. 6, it even breached the walls of democracy. The world watched in horror as a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol, violently interrupting our government officials carrying out their constitutional duty to effectuate the will of the voters, including millions of Pennsylvania citizens, in electing the next president.
Even worse, this assault was fomented 100 percent by disinformation and lies – lies that were intentionally spread to subvert the free and fair election and undermine people’s faith in our democracy.
The truth is that Pennsylvania election workers are heroes. These county and local officials live and work in our communities, coach our kids on our sports teams, are our neighbors and friends, and work harder than almost anyone I know.
It is because of them and their dedication to their work that all of us can exercise our fundamental right to vote and have faith that our system is safe, secure, and accurate.
Yet despite this, the misinformation and lies that fueled the attack on the U.S. Capitol are being revived in our state houses across the country.
In the last several weeks, Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature have launched a renewed set of specious claims to continue to undermine the election – the same contest that won most of them their seats.
This week, the Republican leadership of the legislature will launch an unprecedented set of 14 hearings that will drag on for months to rehash spurious allegations and conspiracy theories, and the Republican leadership in the Senate created a new committee to do the same.
This is the same legislature that — just last year — passed a law establishing a bipartisan Election Law Advisory Board with appointees from the legislature, the Secretary of State, and others, to consider and propose effective election reforms.
This Board was intended to be an inclusive and effective vehicle for such issues, and is already scheduled to meet in January.
Instead, all of these additional baseless inquisitions— in Pennsylvania and beyond — are not only an incredibly inefficient use of time and tax dollars but are also a clear ploy to continue to propagate false allegations that have already been debunked by independent fact-checkers and trusted election officials, as well as resoundingly dismissed by state and federal judges, Republican and Democratic, in more than 60 court cases.
Similar charade investigations – conjured by deliberate misinformation, false claims and ridiculous conspiracy theories – are brewing in other battleground states.
In a recent report by the non-partisan Voter Protection Program, the lies spread about the Pennsylvania election and other battleground states are taken down one-by-one, case-by-case, and reveal exactly why we do not need months of sham hearings to re-peddle old arguments.
I am incredibly proud of the free, fair, and secure election carried out by our counties in 2020, marked by exceptional transparency and unparalleled voter registration and turnout, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
About 9.1 million Pennsylvanians registered to vote, over 300,000 more than ever before. And 6.9 million voters cast ballots in the November election, 800,000 more than in any previous election – a record high of 76 percent of our registered voters.
These successes were in part thanks to the historic, bipartisan legislation passed in 2019 that made the most election reform changes in more than 80 years in Pennsylvania.
This legislation lengthened voter registration periods, created no-excuse mail-in voting and other improvements, while maintaining the strict security and eligibility-checking processes that have been followed by every county for decades.
In fact, we took it to the next level by piloting risk-limiting audits, a scientific procedure using statistical methods to confirm that the outcome of an election is accurate and detect possible interference.
The votes have been counted, they have been certified, and they have held up against endless, baseless attacks in court. Both Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania won up and down the ticket.
After the 1992 election, President George H.W. Bush eloquently said, “The people have spoken, and we respect the majesty of the democratic system.”
There have been many calls for unity. I agree: It’s time to celebrate our success, respect the majesty of our democratic system, and move forward together with a shared understanding that the integrity of our election administration is strong.
In this moment, anything less puts the future of our democracy at risk.
[Posted: January 20, 2021]