Daryl Metcalfe got a partial answer to questions about Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes. But the partial answer didn’t satisfy Metcalfe. Nor should it have. It doesn’t satisfy us, either.
In Pennsylvania, the secretary of state is the executive branch’s top elections official, while the chairman of the State Government Committee holds that distinction in the House.
And guess who holds that office? That’s right. Metcalfe does.
Cortes resigned abruptly Wednesday after the disclosure three weeks ago that legal resident noncitizens in Pennsylvania had been offered the chance to register to vote while applying for or renewing driver licenses at PennDOT service centers.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s office announced the departure in a terse statement. No reason for leaving, no fond farewell, no details.
The issue of voter irregularities came to a head when a Philadelphia city commissioner announced that his staff had found 317 noncitizens who had canceled voter registrations in the city from 2006, the first year the state started using the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, which provides reliable statistics about voters.
In Allegheny County, election officials found 96 cases of noncitizens canceling their voter registrations since 2006.
The Department of State then said it had records of 1,160 canceled voter registrations listing ineligibility as a reason and said the issue was under review.
Last week, Metcalfe, a Cranberry Township Republican state representative, and 15 of his colleagues sent Cortes a letter “to express our dire concerns” about the revelations.
“Pennsylvania’s qualified and duly registered voters deserve answers, given that votes cast by noncitizens nullify the legal votes cast by citizens,” Metcalfe wrote, demanding “prompt and complete answers to the following questions” before the Nov. 7, election:
- Have you directed your staff to run all SURE system voter records against Department of Transportation driver’s license and non-driver ID records marked with an INS indicator, or other indicators that a driver’s license or non-driver ID holder is not a citizen?
- If not, when do you intend to do so, given the absolute necessity of correcting voter registration records before the November election?
- If so, how many record matches did this process reveal?
- If the record matches indicate that noncitizens were or are registered, how many noncitizens voted in previous elections?
- If you answered “yes” to the first question, please explain what your department and the counties have done to correct voter record matches that indicate that a non-citizen has registered to vote.
Metcalfe’s line of questions hint at the potential of a potentially much larger scandal. Cortes’ subsequent resignation — and total lack of defense from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration — does nothing to dispel the notion of impropriety.
Before and after his inauguration in January, President Donald Trump claimed massive voter fraud cost him the popular vote. Trump won the election with a convincing victory in the Electoral College, even as Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes. Widespread news reports indicated Trump had no evidence of voter fraud.