Response To Senate and House Election Reform Plans
Republican leaders in the state Senate and House, who have primary responsibility for setting the legislative calendar and agenda, issued a letter bringing greater clarity to election issues and concerns.
They have determined that the state Constitution simply does not contain the authority to overturn the awarding of electors to the candidate who carried the Pennsylvania vote.
Further, the state Constitution makes it practically impossible to convene a December session after sine die adjournment. This precludes the quick action some people were seeking. Any action on election matters will be based on new bills and resolutions that will start fresh in the session convening in January. Bills and resolutions from 2020 do not carry over.
Nevertheless, the General Assembly possesses the power under law to investigate the conduct of elections, evaluate the performance of state and local officials, and take a thorough look at election laws and procedures to determine where reform is deemed necessary. Steps are being taken to carry out these important responsibilities.
The 2020 Election has undoubtedly caused a great deal of anger and frustration. Many of you have reached out to me and my office looking for answers. It is vital that we all have confidence in the process and that our elections are fair and secure. I understand the frustration, as we have all witnessed one of the most tumultuous and polarizing elections in our nation’s history. So, it has been disappointing to see the spread of so much false information and the advocacy for unconstitutional solutions which only serve to escalate that confusion and anger.
For months I have worked with other members of the legislature to stand up to the PA Supreme Court and the last-minute changes they made to the 2020 election process. I have also fought against Secretary of State Boockvar’s mishandling of the election.
The Senate Policy Committee hearing that took place last week in Gettysburg, as well as the draft resolution circulated shortly thereafter has received a great amount of attention. While the hearing into allegations of voter fraud held by members of the Senate majority policy committee, joined by a number of House members, may have been emotionally appealing, the timing and manner in which it was conducted deprived it of useful purpose in terms of legal standing, legislative process, or political reality. I have always been forthright with the people I represent as to the realistic possibilities for action. With the resolution, there was none. Signing onto a proposal that has no effect upon our process, even though individuals might see merit in the mere circulation of such a resolution, strikes me as disingenuous.
As provided in the state Constitution, the two-year 2019-2020 session of the General Assembly expired at midnight on November 30th. Introducing a measure at such a late juncture, simply does not allow enough time for proper legal consideration. Legislative process rules are in place to guarantee that constituents supporting or opposing bills and resolutions have a chance to look at them and provide their thoughts to their elected officials. This is true irrespective of the subject matter or the extent of emerging public support. The individuals who wrote the resolution knew that, but apparently decided to give citizens false hope anyway.
Despite any claims to the contrary, the remedy for these abuses is in the courts and through prospective legislative changes. To that end, Senate Republicans have taken this fight all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and we are committed to continuing that fight.
That is not to say the legislature has no role in correcting the issues with our most recent election. It is certainly our obligation to review the election code and the implementation of Act 77. During the next legislative session, we will have every opportunity to look at every aspect of election law and voting practices and determine where reforms or security enhancements are needed. This will allow for informed action based on fact, rather than a rush to align with allegations or suppositions. Our purpose will be three-fold: to make voting as easy for eligible individuals as possible; to ensure that every legally cast vote is counted; and to protect against those who would improperly interfere with any aspect of our elections, whether for malicious or partisan purposes.
Below are links to the relevant sections of the Pennsylvania Constitution. If you have additional thoughts on the 2020 Election, I welcome hearing them. Please share any information through a web contact form here: https://www.senatorbaker.com/contact-me-2/.