At Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt’s initial confirmation hearing on Wednesday, many senators inquired about the commonwealth’s participation in a controversial voter data-sharing program.
Schmidt, a moderate Republican former Philadelphia city commissioner who subsequently was president of the left-leaning nonprofit Committee of Seventy, will sit for a second hearing covering non-electoral issues his department oversees (e.g., professional licensure). But Senate State Government Committee Chair Cris Dush (R-Bellefonte) suggested discussion of Pennsylvania’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) will come up then as well.
Tens of thousands of non-citizens have tried or made it onto voter rolls across the U.S. over recent years, according to an election watchdog’s analysis of data from several states.
Non-citizen voters have been found on voter rolls in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Maricopa County, Ariz. In Georgia, there were non-citizens who attempted to register to vote but were placed in a pending status because there wasn’t evidence of their citizenship, so they didn’t make it onto the voter rolls.
Pennsylvania State Senators Cris Dush (R-Bellefonte) and Jarrett Coleman (R-Allentown) are preparing legislation to withdraw the commonwealth from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
Over two dozen states and the District of Columbia participate in the election data-sharing system which they use to identify errors in their voter rolls. But seven states — Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Louisiana, Missouri and West Virginia — recently cancelled their membership in the program.
Pennsylvania’s top election officials this week informed lawmakers that the process of replacing the state’s voter-records system is “behind schedule” but assured them his agency is prioritizing its completion.
Responding to questions from members of the state House Appropriations Committee in preparation for drafting the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt said 23 counties are testing the initial version of the new SUREVote system.
During discussions with Pennsylvania’s top election officials this week, state Senator Cris Dush (R-Bellefonte) urged the commonwealth to leave the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), an election data-sharing system.
Over the last 14 months, five states have nixed their participation in ERIC. This month, both Iowa and Ohio indicated they will also do so. Some Republican-led states in the partnership wanted greater autonomy regarding use of the data collected by the organization; these participants also desired an end to a stipulation in ERIC’s bylaws instructing states to contact unregistered voters to remind them to vote. In a recent meeting, the nonprofit’s board rejected the suggested changes.
Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on Thursday dismissed a Republican Party lawsuit seeking to prevent counties from “curing” mail-in ballots that contain mistakes.
The GOP national and state committees who sued insisted state law does not outline procedures for local election boards to inform absentee voters they made mistakes filling out their vote envelopes or to let those voters fix their errors. In recent elections, various counties did so anyway, prompting Republicans to object that the rules aren’t being followed in certain jurisdictions across the commonwealth.
Philadelphia City Council on Thursday confirmed Seth Bluestein, a longtime aide to retired City Commissioner Al Schmidt, to replace his former boss.
Like Schmidt, Bluestein is a Republican who will serve in the minority-party seat on the three-member board which oversees elections in Philadelphia. After the former was first elected in 2011, Bluestein joined his staff and eventually rose to the position of chief deputy. Last autumn, Schmidt announced he would leave his position to head the Committee of Seventy, an advocacy group working on governance issues.
Republican Al Schmidt, who is the only GOP member with a seat on Philadelphia’s election board, announced on Tuesday that he will resign from his position.
Schmidt, who has received harsh criticism from former President Donald Trump, is accepting a position as president and CEO of The Committee of Seventy.
The commissioner will step down in the middle of his third term.