OP-ED: Pa. House committee seeks to re-litigate 2020 election

State Rep. Margo Davidson
Delaware County
FILE- In this file photo from Nov. 19, 2019, the dome of the Pennsylvania Capitol is visible through the trees in Harrisburg, Pa. There are 203 House seats and 25 of 50 Senate seats up for election on Nov. 3, when voters will decide whether to extend gains Democrats made two years ago or tighten the majority hold Republicans have long held over both chambers of the Pennsylvania Legislature. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

On Thursday, just two days after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office and appealed to all Americans for unity, the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee held the first of 14 planned public hearings on the very much settled 2020 election. 

While Republican lawmakers on the committee led by Rep. Seth Grove claim these hearings are meant to “conduct a thorough review” of Pennsylvania’s current election law and processes and not an attempt to re-litigate the 2020 election, their behavior throughout the hearing told a much different story.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar was quite frankly a hero to Pennsylvania voters in the first of these hearings as she endured more than three hours of being asked the same questions she previously answered on multiple occasions via multiple platforms, including responses to Grove himself, throughout 2019, 2020 and in the first few weeks of 2021.

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State Rep. Margo Davidson

Legislator after legislator on the Republican side re-asked questions settled by the courts and droned on and on for an average of 10 to 15 minutes per member in violation of agreed-to committee rules.

On numerous occasions, Secretary Boockvar corrected with facts and evidence the misconceptions and falsehoods spread via a coordinated misinformation campaign orchestrated and carried out by former President Donald Trump and his surrogates over the course of 2020 and up until the deadly insurrection at our U.S. Capitol on Jan.6 which attempted to overturn our democracy.

Your readers should find it outrageous that three months after a full county, state and national certification of the election process, after an attempted coup culminating in 25,000 troops guarding the democratic heart of our nation during the Presidential inauguration, and while our nation is battling the deadliest pandemic in our lifetime, that Pennsylvania Republicans are still forging ahead with these meaningless hearings.

Secretary Boockvar, the Wolf administration and county election officials did an excellent job carrying out two elections in 2020, especially so soon after the enactment of Act 77 of 2019, which contained the most significant reforms to improve voting in decades, and multiple obstacles created by COVID-19. It should be noted that the Republican majority crafted the Act 77 law without public hearings.

Indeed, there are some voters and some counties in Pennsylvania that will never be happy with the results of the 2020 election, but the fact is the election was free, fair, accurate and uniform as declared by Homeland Security officials, the U.S. Justice Department, state courts, federal courts, members of Congress and members of the U.S. Senate who in a bipartisan way overwhelming accepted the results of the election despite nefarious objections.

When this political theater has finally ended and we begin to contemplate changes to our state election laws, I hope that this Republican majority does not consider changes that would disenfranchise voters. There are things that we can and should do to improve the voting process, such as allowing counties to pre-canvass ballots to ensure timely results are recorded on Election Day.

The Democratic members of the committee implore our colleagues to move beyond these fully and completely settled issues of the 2020 election. My Democratic colleagues and I look toward passing legislation to help counties avoid extreme time pressure during our next election while ensuring voters’ continued ballot access and constitutionally protected rights. 

— State Rep. Margo Davidson represents the 164th District in Delaware County. She is Democratic Chairwoman of the House State Government Committee.