The Republican Party of Pennsylvania and the Republican National Committee on Tuesday sent demand letters to the Shapiro administration asking for more information about the governor’s announced plan to automatically register new voters when they get their driver’s licenses or state identification.
Those letters are commonly issued immediately prior to a lawsuit. In October 2022, the RNC and PAGOP won a major battle before Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court after suing to stop undated absentee ballots from being counted. The RNC is currently involved in nearly 60 election integrity lawsuits nationwide.
“Gov. Shapiro is springing an unclear and unnecessary last-minute rule change on Pennsylvania voters just weeks ahead of a key November election,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “He cares more about getting airtime on MSNBC than making sure Pennsylvania elections are secure and transparent. The RNC and PAGOP are continuing our shared mission of fighting for election integrity in the Keystone State by demanding immediate answers.”
The first letter, to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt, asked about safeguarding voters’ information when the Pennsylvania of Transportation (PennDOT) handles automatic voter registration across the state. In the past, voters had to “opt-in” for voter registration when getting their driver’s license, and most registrations were handled by the counties. Now, the state will assume people getting their driver’s license also want their information sent on to register them to vote unless they choose to “opt-out.”
“Unfortunately, the only information provided on this new voter registration process is found in Governor Shapiro’s press release, leaving unanswered many important questions about how PennDOT is implementing these changes, how the new system operates, and what safeguards are in place to keep ineligible individuals off the state’s list of registered voters,” the letter reads.
“As I am sure you agree, since this new process has been implemented just weeks before the October 23, 2023, voter-registration deadline for the November 7, 2023, election, a more complete explanation will facilitate voter education as to the process. Although PennDOT may have taken the lead on operationalizing these changes, Pennsylvania law vests ‘the primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing the license voter registration system’ to the Secretary of the Commonwealth,” the letter said.
It asked what steps would be taken to prevent those not eligible to vote from registering, including people under 18, felons, out-of-state residents, and non-citizens.
The second letter, to Mike Carroll, state secretary of transportation, similarly asked how PennDOT would make sure only those eligible to vote are registered.
“There are important questions necessary to educate our voters and eliminate confusion,” said Pennsylvania GOP chair Lawrence Tabas. “Voting is a key pillar of democracy, and the process to register should be as easy and transparent as possible.”
Former President Donald Trump has long complained about how Pennsylvania handled the 2020 election, and he used the governor’s unilateral actions to repeat his claims that Democrats are using the Keystone State’s election rules to disadvantage Republicans.
“Pennsylvania is at it again! The Radical Left Governor, Josh Shapiro, has just announced a switch to Automatic Voter Registration, a disaster for the Election of Republicans, including your favorite President, ME!” Trump posted on Truth Social. “This is a totally Unconstitutional Act and must be met harshly by Republican Leadership in Washington and Pennsylvania. Likewise, the RNC and Ronna McDaniel must spend their time working on this, instead of meaningless Debates where I am up by more than 50 points.”
The next GOP presidential debate is Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. Trump has declined to participate.
Shapiro did not respond to a request for comment.