tv Campaign 2020 Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf on Electoral College Count Election... CSPAN January 6, 2021 12:08pm-12:36pm EST
we wait for the joint session to start. outside of the house and the senate, here on capitol hill, is this scene. thousands of the supporters of president trump have gathered in washington on capitol hill and close to the white house today in protest of the electoral college vote. more on that coming up. we'll talk with laura brown about how all of today's proceedings, she's with the george washington university, about how all the proceedings will play out today. but first, pennsylvania governor tom wolfe, democrat, holding a news conference about the 20 electoral college votes in pennsylvania. the senators and members of congress who said they'll object to today. let's listen. >> citizens retain that power. sadly here in pennsylvania yesterday and evidently today, later today in washington, some
of our public servants have seemed to have forgotten that. as a result, government of the people, by the people, and for the people is really taking a hit. m proud to turn this over to secretary kathy bothar. secretary? > thank you. good afternoon. happy new year. thank you very much, governor, thank you commissioner smith, for being here. in november's election, 100 years and one day after american women voted for the very first time, we are extremely proud of the record voter participation in the commonwealth. pennsylvania held a fair, free, secure and accessible election. for eligible pennsylvanians. with exceptional transparency throughout the entire process.
once again, i want to give tremendous thanks to all the election officials and poll workers, republicans an democrats, who worked tirelessly amidst a global pandemic so that eligible voters could exercise their fundamental right to vote and decide this election. nd they did in record numbers. act 77 of 2019 and act 12 of 2020 made the most extensive changes in more than 80 years in the commonwealth to have voters vote in pennsylvania and how we run elections in pennsylvania. including longer voter registration periods, no excuse mail-in voting and more. local and state election officials implemented all these changes in the face of a global pandemic, delivery delays acknowledged by the u.s. postal service itself, and an unprecedented amount of false litigation and challenges brought throughout the year. despite all these challenges, pennsylvanians registered and voted in record numbers in 2020.
approximately 9.1 million pennsylvanians are registered to vote. more than 300,000 more voters than ever before. and turnout in the november election included more than 6.9 million voters, 800,000 more pennsylvanians than ever in our history. over 76% of registered pennsylvanians voted. far more than ever before. and those votes were counted accurately and securely by the counties, no matter where you -- no matter whether you voted in person on election day, by mail, or early at your county election office. i say this with supreme confidence because our counties have some of the most dedicated, hardworking, professional election officials in the country. there's one with us today, and our commonwealth has become a pioneer in election security and integrity. pennsylvania's 67 county boards of election worked incredibly hard around the clock in
collaboration with the department of state, with state and federal offices of home lap security, the offices of information technology, information security officers, pennsylvania state police, pennsylvania national guard, dmva and other kilocall, state, and federal partners to ensure the highest level of security and integ i have to pennsylvania elections processes. a layered set of defenses are in place in the commonwealth to protect every step of the process including cyber security protection, extensive eligibility procedures and state of the art voting measures that meet federal standards and provide an auditable pay paper ballot for pennsylvania. in order to vote by mail in pennsylvania pennsylvanians must apply and be aflivepled go through extensive i.d. check, need to provide their driver's license or the last four of their social security number. they have to check against the voter record to make sure
they're eligible voters. once the ballot is set in another round of checking is done to make sure the voter actually was on the list of approved mail-in voters. this voter needs to sipe an oath under penalty of perjury and the ntire process is secure. additionally every single voting system in the state has successfully completed penetration testing, access control testing and testing to ensure that every access point, software and firmware are protected from tampering and no voting system is connected to the internet. pennsylvania's processes also ensure that no voter is wrongly disenfranchised and every single qualified vote is counted. that takes some time. before counties certify their results to the department they are required by statute also to conduct an audit of a random sample of at least 2% or 2,000 of their ballots. additionally, pennsylvania is one of the first states in the nation to pilot additional
voluntary audits on top of what they're already required by statute. they have been conducting pilots of the audit and philadelphia was one of the first two counties in the state to pilot the security measure in 2019. we went on to pilot some statewide awe dis in 2020 and these are scientifically designed procedures useding statistical methods to provide a high level of confidence in statistical verification that the outcome of an election is accurate and to detect possible interference. the department and counties are currently conducting another state-wide risk limiting audit pie loft of the 2020 election as we did after the primary. with everything our country and commonwealth has faced this year, we are reminded more than ever why we must fight any effort to undermine our great democracy. thank you to everyone who exercised their precious right to vote and thank you again to all our elections officials and
pollworkers for tirelessly carrying out the democratic processes so that the will of the voters as expressed in november an then certified and voted again by the electoral college in december may be heard and carried out. now i'd like to introduce philadelphia commissioner schmidt. >> good afternoon. thank you governor wolf and secretary for inviting me to be with you here today. all pennsylvanians should have confidence in the election results in philadelphia. we had the most transparent and secure election in the history of our city. our dedicated election workers demonstrated determination and integrity in counting every valid vote cast by eligible voters on or before election day and did so under unprecedented
circumstances. every vote cast and counted in philadelphia had a voter verifiable paper ballot record and a canvas of those ballots was live streamed and fully open to observers of all parties. our republic is better when we all have the opportunity to participate. and as public servants it's our duty to put aside partisan political interests to serve our constituents. a once in a lifetime pandemic, we were able to provide safe, in-person voting, and a convenient and safe vote by mail option. i'm proud to say philadelphia had its highest turnout in measure 30 years. even with the significant turnout, in the many lawsuits filed in pennsylvania, there
wasn't a single challenge on the basis of a voter's eligibility to cast their vote in philadelphia. at the heart of the our electoral system is the faith americans have in the integrity of our elections. confidence that we do everything we can to count legitimately cast votes from eligible voters, and trust that we do everything in our power to protect our elections from illegitimately cast votes. now is the time to come together. and to continue to improve our electoral system. and restore that faith. we must do so based on facts and informed by data, rejecting disinformation and with the understanding that this past election in pennsylvania was free and fair.
>> we will now begin the q&a portion of the press conference. ou will see reporters who have asked asked their questions and reporters on deck. our reporter now is forrest from the scranton times tribune. forrest, please unmute and ask your question. reporter: i'm sorry, i don't ave a question, thank you. >> tyler, please unmute and ask your question. reporter: good afternoon. my question is for the governor. governor, as we have just heard detailed by the secretary and commissioner, the ways that pennsylvania held a free and air election, you pointed your
comments at lawmakers. what would you say to the american people and pennsylvanians that continue to believe that pennsylvania's election was fraudulent? >> they're wrong. and i would also suggest to the people who are permitting this disinformation and trying to make people believe against all reality and all the facts that the elections were not free and fair that they ought to stop oing that. >> our next question is from dennis from abc 27. dennis, please unmute. reporter: happy new year, everybody. thank you for doing this. governor, actually, my question, i know the drama is in washington, d.c. today. t my question is for kathy bofar about the election in west virginia and your guidance before the election was mail-in ballots that didn't have a date,
that is the voter didn't sign and date the mail-in ballot, should be set aside and voted. you have a district with two county, one of which tossed them, the other is keeping them. if those mail-in ballots that didn't have dates are counted, one person win, if they're not another person wins. obviously a testament to every vote counting. but what can you say about people saying your own guidance was to dismiss those ballots and -- but you've now certified an election in which a county chose to keep those mail-in ballots that didn't have dates on them. can you give us your thoughts on that? >> sure. happy new year to you as well. as you know this is a circumstance that has been before the federal courts and state courts. the department of state's role in this is actually very simple. the counties certify their votes. they provide them to the department of state. you can look in the statute. the statute says the department
of state receives the votes from he counties. one of the candidates in this case, the losing candidate, did ask the court to enjoin us from certifying the results of that election. the court denied that, dennis. it's very simple. the counties provide certification. we have a duty to then certify the election. the winner in this race based on the certifications was senator brewster. we certified that race at the same time we certified all the races. he was -- that's the simple fact of the matter. the courts, you know are still active and will decide it from here. thank you. >> thank you, dennis. our next question is from ryan from cbs 21. ryan, please unmute. reporter: my question is for you, secretary, and really i have two. we haven't heard from you in i want to say almost two months.
why has it been that long since you've been part of one of these press conferences? >> i don't think we've done any election press conferences in two months so it's been as simple as, look, the counting was going on. and the counties were doing their jobs. we were providing support to the counties to make sure they could get their work done. i was very honored to pro pre-side over the electoral college in december, hopefully you had a chance to see that. but we really were letting the process take its course. so governor, i don't know if you have anything you'd like to add to that? >> i don't think it was two month bus the election process, we have a court system and the court system is obviously used by all kinds of folks in this process. i think that's where the action was. it was not anything that we had anything to do with. so i think that's why it's been that long. today things are happening in
the political arena. i think call for us to say something. reporter: governor, i have a question, republicans sent a letter to u.s. senate majority about itch mcconnell ignoring calls for independent investigation of the election. did you see any request for independent investigation and were those ignored? is that your understanding? >> i don't -- i don't know what they're talking about. >> our next question is from jim from kyw news radio. jim, please unmute and ask your question. reporter: a quick followup for the secretary. understanding the certification by the county and the state and the rulings by the court but the question has been the guidance beforehand. was there guidance specifically realed to dates on mail-in ballots that wept out before
election day? >> you can look at all the guidance, it's public, posted on our website. there were multiple, as you know, as the governor mentioned and i think as the commissioner mention and i menged, there's been unprecedented litigation throughout the year. throughout the year we provided guidance to the best of the court's guidance an actually a lot of the litigation both in federal court and state court actually said that the guidance was critically important and upheld their decisions based on the guidance put out. so i don't know the exact allegations here. please feel free to go onto the website, check out the guidance, we continuously update it based on court decisions and provided that guidance to every single one of the counties on a uniform basis. the counties, all the other counties in the state seem to have followed it just fine and the -- the legal process allows for challenges.
several counties experience challenges from the candidates or the parties and they went through that process and that's what those challenge processes are there for, to do that. we had free and fair elections with all the counties and the candidates being able to physical low those rules and in the result of the will of the people where we are today. our next question is from carrie from the center for public integrity. please unmute. reporter: hi, thanks very much for taking my question. it's really for the secretary and the commissioner. in the wake of this election, there's been a lot of talk about legislature making additional changes to voting procedures especially the vote by mail for pennsylvania. and i'd like to ask you both, you know, what you see as the next step with this, how you're working with the legislature and what feedback you'd give them about what would and wouldn't be hetchful to change, what would
you like to see happen given the lessons learned in the 2020 election? >> for me, and i'm, you know, al and i haven't had this discussion yet. the top priority for us, i would precounting, he it takes longer than 13 hours on election day to actually process, preprocess the mail-in and absentee ballots when you're looking at millions of ballots. this counties were phenomenal, worked around the clock to get it done but 46 other states in this country provide their counties with weeks of time ahead of election day to precanvass those ballots. this is our single biggest priority on the elections front to help the counties effectively administer the elections. i'll defer to you, commissioner. >> i wholeheartedly agree with the secretary. precanvassing is critical, not
just in the processing of votes but in help to, you know, maintain and restore the integrity of the process. i think it was difficult for our county and many counties to feel like we, you know, the legislature and others were putting their foot on the gas and the brake at the same time. they wanted results like that, but were unwilling to give the counties what they needed to begin preparing those ballots and those declaration envelopes for processing so that we could begin reporting those results on election day, on election morning in fact. i think there'll be other things as well and i know our county an other counties will be reaching out to the governor's office and the secretary moving forward with regard to improvements to the electoral process. >> thank you. our next question from
pennsylvania legislative service. please unmute and ask your question. >> hi. my question for the governor, it's related to that last one. i think the fact that we're at this press conference right now underscores that this is a really tense election cycle in pennsylvania. and you know in addition to that it was also the first election year where we had act 7, mail-in ballots in plague. -- in place. it does seem some lawmakers are interested in revisiting the topic of mail-in ballot legislatively, maybe addressing precanvassing but perhaps add manager requirements or rolling back pieces of act 77. so i guess what i would ask is what long-term effects, if any, do you think this tension we've seen over this election will have on how you approach your conversations and collaboration with the legislature on the
issue moving forward? and also is there any scenario where you would sign legislation rolling back any portions of act 77? >> let's keep in mind that act 77 electoral reform was a bipartisan measure. that came out of yen assembly where the republican party had the majority, both the house and the senate. and i think we need to remember that. i think it was great, i signed it. willingly. because we moved forward in terms of making voting more accessible and easier for pennsylvanians. i think the results were that more people came out to vote. we're doing -- we did what you're supposed to do in a democracy, and that's regardless of whether you're a republican or democrat. i noticed interestingly enough, that coming out of 2019, we all seemed to be on the same page. there was a lot of talk about precanvassing. about extending that period.
and counties, republican and democratic counties, were interested in having that done so they could be ready to count the ballots and do it on a more timely basis. i think it's interest roog no, i, georgia, they have a two-week precanvassing period so the election results are being reported in a timely fashion. i'd like to see that kind of thing. i'm not sure what you're talking about in terms of other things that might or might not be in election reform but if the question do i think that we can make it better, i do i'm hoping that we can do the same way we did it before in a bipartisan way. i think this was obviously a tough election. i think there were some issues that were raised unfortunately in 2020 about the system itself, is unfortunate. i think it drew attention and raised questions about the democratic process in general. and i'm not sure why you'd want to do that. we all know we can make the democratic process better which
is what act 77 tried to do. i don't know how what we're doing now, which is destructive to the democratic system, is in any way helpful. so i'm hoping we can get back on the same page. we can all work together and say let's forget the fact that we might have different ideas and we might argue about specific policies, but we all have a vested interest, a shared interest, in a strong an healthy democracy. >> we're twoing to continue along, our next question from tom, please unmute and ask your question. >> thank you, governor. good afternoon. you talked about what you believe to be misinformation but beyond that, what else do you think the state can do to either improve transparency or offer, i guess, more -- more of a way for people to trust the results? i say this for the people who reach out to us on a daily basis saying they dope trust what happened.
is there anything that you believe the state can do even further to improve -- reach out to those people. >> i don't know. i'm not sure it's misinformation. it's absolutely disinformation. i think it's an atompe actually mislead people. it's not accidental. it's not random bits of information. it's being done on a conscious basis. i think that has undermined the system. so yeah, i agree. there are people out there who have been led to believe by unscrupulous politicians that a system that we have done everything to make as free and fair and open and transparent as we possibly could, that still there are people who claim that things aren't right. now if that were true, i mean, this has gone through now months of court cases. it has been challenged. where's the evidence? what is it that is wrong here? if there's something wrong, i
think we've shown erincally nation, every willingness to open up and do anything we can to make this more fair. more open. more transparent. but i'm at a los to understand what more we could do. >> our next question is from john delano from kdka. please unmute and ask your question. >> thank you very much, happy new year, governor, happy new year, secretary. >> happy new year, john. >> let me ask you this question. you may have answered it in some ways. as you know when pennsylvania's name is called a and the electoral college votes are expected to be read, that may happen in the wee hours tomorrow morning, we're going to see eight of the nine pennsylvania republican congressmen object to that vote. some have said that they are violating their oath of office. that they're engaged in treasonous activity, sedition has been tossed out there. how would you characterize the
actions of these particular pennsylvania members of congress? >> well -- it's inconsistent at best. i mean, each of them was elected according to the rules that they are apparently saying that they don't agree with. as i said in my comments, i don't understand how you can do that. are you saying, i didn't like this particular election, not because of the way it was handled, because i was elected the same way, but because of who the voters voted for? well, that's pretty dangerous when you start getting into that area in terms of a democracy. if you're saying that because i don't like the outcome of a game, because i don't like the outcome of this election, i'm going to arbitrarily and unilaterally change it, what does that say about the emocratic system that is the foundation based on the about of each individual citizen to vote
and direct and hire the people they want to hire? are you taking that away from the voters? i think -- i don't know how -- what i would call it except basically inconsistent. it's inconsistent with their own interests. it's inconsistent with their own elections. it's inconsistent with the way democracy is intended to work. it's puzzling. >> the governor of pennsylvania there, tom wolf, along with the secretary of state, reasserting that the november elections in their state, the electoral college vote that happened in pennsylvania, the -- that it was fair and free of fraud. a message to many lawmakers here in washington, some who plan to object to pennsylvania's electoral college votes when the joint session on capitol hill gets under way. we are in the final steps of the campaign 2020am