Free and Fair Elections Free and fair elections are absolutely necessary in order for a representative democracy, like ours, to function. In Pennsylvania, it is the People of the Commonwealth, acting through the General Assembly, that provide the rules by which we hold elections. House Resolution 1032 creates the House Select Committee on Election Integrity to provide oversight of the 2020 election to inform possible legislation before and after the Nov. 3, 2020, General Election. The Select Committee, which has subpoena power, is an exercise of the General Assembly’s constitutional prerogative to determine the time, place and manner of elections, and create committees to help it carry out its legislative functions. >> Read Leader Benninghoff's release announcing the purpose for the Select Committee. Protecting the integrity of our election process requires taking definitive action of prevention, deterrence and prosecuting individuals who commit election fraud. Though many insist that no voter fraud has ever occurred in Pennsylvania, court records prove otherwise. >> Read the long list of documented election fraud in Pennsylvania here. Questions & Answers About the House Select Committee on Election Integrity Does H.R. 1032 allow votes, voted absentee ballots, voted mail-in ballots, or ballot boxes to be subpoenaed? Absolutely not. First, it is not authorized by the resolution. The Select Committee is tasked with investigating, reviewing, and making findings and recommendations related to the election concerning: • Actions taken, instructions provided and information distributed by the Department of State and the Secretary of the Commonwealth. • Actions taken, instructions provided and information distributed by the county boards of elections. • Best practices of other states. • Legislative, regulatory or other changes to improve the conduct of elections. Second, this would violate the Pennsylvania Constitution. Article VII, Section 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that “secrecy in voting be preserved.” Will this Committee make the jobs of county election officials even harder? Absolutely not. In no way, shape or form does the resolution attack county officials; instead, it sympathizes with their plight in dealing with an activist Department of State which has attempted to effectively change the Commonwealth's election laws unilaterally, i.e., bypassing the people of the Commonwealth acting through the General Assembly. Will this Select Committee interfere with the conduct of the election? Absolutely not. The resolution is focused on improving the conduct of elections. Over the last two years, the General Assembly has worked to modernize our election process, allowing for mail-in voting and expanding the time during which mailed votes can be requested and received. The recommendations of the committee will provide a road map to continue those reforms and improvements. Can this Select Committee change Election Laws or Regulations? No. A Select Committee of the House cannot enact laws or regulations. As provided in the resolution, the end result of the Select Committee is to issue interim and final reports which include findings and recommendations for legislative action. Can this Select Committee change how people can vote? No. A Select Committee of the House cannot enact laws or regulations. As provided in the resolution, the end result of the Select Committee is to issue interim and final reports which include findings and recommendations for legislative action. Can this Select Committee prevent ballots from being counted or change election results? No. The process of counting ballots and determining election outcomes is controlled by the Pennsylvania Election Code. In other words, it is set in law. The Select Committee, similar to other legislative committees, cannot change the law, it can only recommend changes to the legislature. Can the Select Committee change the process of electing Presidential Electors? No. This process is established in the Pennsylvania Election Code. In other words, it is set in law. Section 1501 of the Election Code, entitled “Election of Presidential Electors,” provides as follows: At the general election to be held in the year 1940, and every fourth year thereafter, there shall be elected by the qualified electors of the Commonwealth, persons to be known as electors of President and Vice-President of the United States, and referred to in this act as presidential electors, equal in number to the whole number of senators and representatives to which this State may be entitled in the Congress of the United States. The Select Committee cannot enact or change laws or regulations. It can only make recommendations for legislative change to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Why is the Select Committee composed of three Majority and two Minority Members? An odd number prevents the possibility of a deadlocked committee. Further, it follows the past practice of Standing Committees of the House of Representatives, whether under the control of Democratic or Republican majorities. Will the Select Committee eliminate drop boxes? No. A Select Committee of the House cannot enact laws or regulations. As provided in the resolution, the end result of the Select Committee is to issue interim and final reports which include findings and recommendations for legislative action. What do the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions say about the General Assembly’s authority regarding election laws? The Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution provides that “[t]he Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” U.S. Constitution Art. I, Section 4, Clause 1. Legislative Branch power as to election procedure is further codified in the Pennsylvania Constitution. See, among others: • Pa. Constitution Art. VII, Section 1 - “Every citizen 21 years of age, possessing the following qualifications, shall be entitled to vote at all elections subject, however, to such laws requiring and regulating the registration of electors as the General Assembly may enact.”; • Pa. Constitution, Article VII, Section 4 – “All elections by the citizens shall be by ballot or by such other method as may be prescribed by law: Provided, That secrecy in voting be preserved.”; and • Pa. Constitution Art. VII, Section 14 - “The Legislature shall, by general law, provide a manner in which, and the time and place at which, qualified electors who may, on the occurrence of any election, be absent from the municipality of their residence, because their duties, occupation or business require them to be elsewhere or who, on the occurrence of any election, are unable to attend at their proper polling places because of illness or physical disability or who will not attend a polling place because of the observance of a religious holiday or who cannot vote because of election day duties, in the case of a county employee, may vote, and for the return and canvass of their votes in the election district in which they respectively reside.” How can we empower a legislative committee to undertake this kind of investigation? As an initial matter, Article II, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (Legislative power) provides: The legislative power of this Commonwealth shall be vested in a General Assembly, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Part of this legislative power includes the power of legislative committees to investigate. As explained by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1974, (Com. ex rel. Carcaci v. Brandamore): The power to investigate is an essential corollary of the power to legislate. The scope of this power of inquiry extends to every proper subject of legislative action. In 1986, in Lunderstadt v. Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee,ii the Pennsylvania Supreme Court explained: It is well established that a function of legislative committees is to find facts and to make recommendations to the legislature for remedial legislation and other appropriate action... The scope of this power of inquiry extends to every proper subject of legislative action.”). As stated in McGinley v. Scott, 401 Pa. 310, 320, 164 A.2d 424, 429 (1960), “The right to investigate in order to acquire factual knowledge concerning particular subjects which will, or may, aid the legislators in their efforts to determine if, or in what manner, they should exercise their powers, is an inherent right of a legislative body, ancillary to, but distinct from, such powers.”iii Finally, House Rule 51, entitled “Investigations,” specifically provides: Any standing committee, subcommittee or select committee, upon resolution introduced and approved by majority vote of the House, may be authorized and empowered to conduct hearings at any place in the Commonwealth to investigate any matter provided for in such resolution.