Pennsylvania State Officials Sue to Block State Senate Subpoena Seeking Private Voter Information

9.23.2021

Lawsuit Contends State Senate Committee Unlawfully Issued Subpoena That Would Violate Privacy Rights of Millions of Pennsylvanians and Interfere with Right To Vote

Lawsuit Co-Counsel States United: Suit is “Important to Protect the Privacy and the Right to Vote of Pennsylvanians”

HARRISBURG — Citing the prospect of violations of privacy and voting rights, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of State, and the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth, Veronica Degraffenreid, filed a lawsuit today asking the court to block a subpoena issued by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee last week. The complaint makes clear that official county audits and nonpartisan experts confirmed that the 2020 General Election and 2021 Municipal elections in the Commonwealth were free, fair, and securely administered. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro brought the case. The States United Democracy Center is acting as pro bono co-counsel in the lawsuit with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The Senate subpoena seeks, among other things, the driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security Numbers for all registered voters in the Commonwealth. This confidential data would then be given to an unidentified third-party vendor without any known restrictions, and which may have connections to individuals and organizations that have perpetuated some of the most dangerous lies about the 2020 election. The lawsuit argues that the Senate subpoena, if enforced, would violate the right to privacy in the Pennsylvania Constitution and in the Commonwealth’s laws.

“Leaders in the Pennsylvania State Senate have launched an unfounded and unlawful investigation of the 2020 elections—an election marked by historic voter participation and referred to as the most secure election in history,” said Christine P. Sun, Legal Director of the States United Democracy Center. “This lawsuit is an important step to protect the privacy and the right to vote of Pennsylvanians. This subpoena is not a fact-finding mission but rather an attempt to keep the dangerous lies about the 2020 elections alive.”

Additionally, the lawsuit contends the subpoena was not issued for a legitimate legislative purpose; violates privacy and right to vote protections in the Pennsylvania Constitution; and exceeds the Intergovernmental Operations Committee’s authority. Specifically, the lawsuit points to the subpoena requesting information that, if provided, would violate:

  • the right to privacy under Article I, Sections 1 and 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution;
  • the right to free and fair elections under Article I, Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; and
  • federal law protecting critical infrastructure under 6 U.S.C. § 673.

“It’s deeply disturbing to see Pennsylvania legislators waste taxpayer dollars and risk exposing the personal information of millions, all for political games,” said former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Co-Chair of the States United Democracy Center. “Legal action is necessary to block anti-voter efforts and to reinforce the free, fair, and secure 2020 election in Pennsylvania. It also underscores the need for bipartisan leadership to push back on the lies—this isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue, this is an American one.”

The complaint was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The defendants in the case are Senator Cris Dush, Senator Jake Corman, and the Pennsylvania State Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee.

Today’s legal action is the latest in a series of efforts to push back on the partisan election investigation in Pennsylvania and similar investigations in states across the country. States United is a national leader in challenging bad faith election reviews and convening bipartisan election experts to expose the legal and procedural concerns and risks to our democracy these operations generate.

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About the States United Democracy Center

The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit www.statesuniteddemocracy.org.