Results Over Rhetoric

Senators Ryan Aument & Scott Martin 

Over the past few weeks, we have received many calls, emails, and letters raising concerns about the 2020 election. The overwhelming majority of these messages have been from our fellow Republicans who are concerned about the fairness of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.  We recognize that many voters are angry, confused, and anxious about the process to certify the election here in the Commonwealth.  We fully 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.

To be sure, there were procedural mistakes made in this election. For months, we have publicly argued that Governor Wolf, Secretary Boockvar, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have acted outside of their constitutional authority.  While those procedural mistakes do not appear to have impacted the vote count enough to change the final election results, they still need to be addressed. Despite any claims to the contrary, the remedy for these abuses is in the courts and through prospective legislative changes. To that end, we have taken this fight all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and we are committed to continuing that fight.   

However, the recent effort to claim the legislature could, through the passage of a simple majority resolution, declare this presidential election in dispute and assign a new slate of electors contrary to the winner of the popular vote in Pennsylvania is simply false. 

It is true that the United States Constitution gives each state legislature the power to choose their electors; however, in 1937 Pennsylvania determined by law to do so by requiring electors be awarded to the certified winner of the statewide popular vote. Should the legislature wish to change this law, or choose electors in a different manner, such a change can only be made through the passage of legislation to implement a new law that would only affect future elections. 

There are many reasons why passage of a bill or resolution would not impact the results of the 2020 election:

  • There was no time to even consider the resolutions from Senator Mastriano or Representative Diamond since the current legislative session ended on November 30th, as mandated by the Constitution.  (It is important to note that Senator Mastriano’s and Rep. Diamond’s resolutions weren’t even introduced until late afternoon on November 30th, mere hours before the close of session.)
  • The new legislative session, by law,[1] is not scheduled to open until noon on January 5th, 2021, and any effort to call a special session would require the cooperation of the Governor.
  • Any bill or resolution that has the effect of law would need to be presented to the Governor for his approval or disapproval.[2] This would almost certainly result in a veto of such legislation and there would be insufficient support in the General Assembly to override that veto with the constitutionally required 2/3 majority.   
  • Any changes to election laws apply prospectively,[3] and therefore any legislative action to change the law would be meaningless to the 2020 election. 

Each and every member of the General Assembly is aware of these statutory and constitutional provisions and in fact, took an oath to uphold them.  

We understand many will point to allegations of fraud that were brought to light at the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing recently held in Gettysburg as reason for ignoring these constitutional limitations. In times of uncertainty, we must reaffirm our oaths and follow the appropriate constitutional processes laid out to address our problems. 

Allegations of fraud and questions about the result of an election deserve serious and thorough consideration. The Pennsylvania Constitution[4] dictates the appropriate and proper venue in which to contest these issues is in a court of law.

Unfortunately, this hearing gave many the false impression that evidence of legal value was presented. If the objective was to produce results, that testimony should have been presented in a court of law, under oath, and subject to cross examination, as this is the appropriate venue to actually address and remedy these serious concerns.  A partisan policy committee was not the proper place for this conversation if the intention was to highlight election fraud and to actually produce an immediate remedy.

That is not to say the legislature has no role in correcting the issues with our most recent election. We firmly believe that the legislature has an obligation to review our election code and the implementation of Act 77. We fully support a complete audit of the election, and we join our colleagues in working to ensure the unnecessary chaos and confusion created by our Secretary of the Commonwealth and Pennsylvania Supreme Court that surrounded this election are not repeated in the future. In fact, there is currently litigation pending to address these concerns. Further, the Senate and House State Government Committees will continue to gather information, and the General Assembly must work to address any issues raised.   

To be clear, Republicans cannot only advocate for the rule of law when it is to our political advantage to do so.  Our fidelity to the Constitution and adherence to the laws of this Commonwealth prohibit us from pursuing the course being proposed to assign a new slate of electors contrary to the certified winner of the statewide popular vote. 

In this tenuous moment, it is absolutely critical that our elected officials lead with integrity. The people of Pennsylvania want and deserve results, and our Constitution eloquently lays out a process by which we attain those results.  However, we refuse to partake in a campaign that gives false hope to those who believe the election results can be overturned by the legislature.   

We will continue to serve the people of Lancaster County with integrity.  We have a responsibility to be forthcoming and honest with you, even when the truth is disappointing. Though our answer may not always be the one you want to hear, we prefer results over rhetoric. 

[1] Article 2 Section 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution

[2] Article 4 Section 15 of the Pennsylvania Constitution

[3] Article 7 Section 13 of the Pennsylvania Constitution

[4] Article 7 Section 13 of the Pennsylvania Constitution

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