The leading GOP candidate in Pennsylvania’s governor’s race said Wednesday if he’s elected, he’ll demand the state do a full accounting of the state’s voter-rolls and “immediately” kick any non-citizens off the lists.
State Sen. Scott Wagner’s promise came even as the state was facing a razor-thin special congressional election, with the candidates separated by fewer than 700 votes.
Last month The Washington Times reported that Pennsylvania may have as many as 100,000 non-citizens registered to vote, citing documents submitted in a court case trying to force the state to take action.
Mr. Wagner said those numbers were a wake-up call, particularly in light of how close the special election results stand after Tuesday’s vote. Democrat Conor Lamb had 113,813 votes to Rick Saccone’s 113,186, with some absentee and provisional votes still to be counted.
“What we are seeing in the 18th District shows that every vote matters, and furthers the argument for getting a firmer grip on who we have voting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Wagner said in a statement announcing his push for cleaner rolls.
Mr. Wagner is running for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination, hoping to topple incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in November.
Mr. Wagner said the voter issue has salience in the election after Mr. Wolf’s administration has shown little interest in cleaning up the problems detailed in the court case.
“Non-citizens are voting in Pennsylvania elections, and Governor Tom Wolf won’t do a damn thing about it,” the GOP candidate said in a web post detailing his concerns.
The Times report cited a lawsuit filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation against Pennsylvania accusing the state of having dirty voter rolls, and of stonewalling open-records requests for documents that could show the extent of the problem.
As part of the lawsuit, the PILF cited testimony by Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt, who has asserted the 100,000 statewide number after looking at problems in his city.
In the lawsuit the PILF did document several instances it had been able to run to ground, including one man, Felipe Rojas-Orta, who canceled his registration last year, filing a handwritten note saying he was not a citizen. He had, however, registered as a Democrat and voted in three separate elections, including most recently 2016, the year of the presidential race.
Yet another woman voted in 2008 and 2012, had her registration canceled in 2014 because she wasn’t a citizen, then reregistered and voted in 2016, according to documents filed in court. She, too, was registered as a Democrat.
The Department of State, which oversees elections in Pennsylvania, disputed the 100,000 number, saying it was “not a credible figure and there is no reason to believe it to be accurate.”
“The department has been reviewing the data on this issue and continues to engage outside professionals to find a fair and legal remedy for the problems caused by the decades-old glitch,” the agency said in a statement. “The number cited by the Philadelphia commissioner and these political organizations is not confirmed by any substantive analysis by the department.”
President Trump had created a commission last year tasked with getting to the bottom of the issue of bogus and illegal voters. The panel had two public meetings but got mired in legal battles over both its request for states to turn over voter information, as well as the commission’s own compliance with open-government laws.
Mr. Trump nixed the panel in early January and suggested the Homeland Security Department could take over the work, but the department said it didn’t plan any major new initiative.