|As Chairman Steil highlighted:
In 2022 our nation faced a major supply chain crisis, including the paper needed to make ballots.
The Committee on House Administration Republicans, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and several media outlets warned a ballot paper shortage could disrupt the 2022 election.
In fact, Committee Republicans held a widely attended and covered roundtable on the ballot paper shortage crisis in early 2022.
The EAC encouraged state and local election officials to prepare by ensuring they ordered enough ballots well in advance of the November election.
I warned officials in my home state of Wisconsin about the need to prepare.
In July 2022, I spoke with CBS 58 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and said: “One of the things is that paper ballots are a pretty unique type of paper, it's not your average everyday type of paper that you can just snag off the shelf which is good because it provides election integrity but it's challenging for the suppliers."
Unfortunately for voters in Luzerne County, their elections officials seem to be the only ones who didn’t listen to the warnings.
In Luzerne County, on Election Day 2022, nearly one-third of precincts ran out of ballots.
In some cases, there was a shortage just after polls opened.
This resulted in voters being turned away from the polls and denied their right to vote.
When some voters later returned to the polls, they discovered there were still no ballots.
Effectively, many polls in Luzerne County were closed for hours on Election Day and some didn’t reopen.
In response to the ballot shortage, election officials and voters rushed to stores such as Staples to buy standard copy paper for voters to use for voter-created emergency ballots—something truly unbelievable in an American election.
They were then instructed to write out choices on standard 20-pound paper, vote on photocopies of ballots instead of ballot paper, or cast emergency or provisional ballots in place of standard ballots.
They had no guarantee that the voting equipment would be able to process these irregular ballots, or that their vote would count.
The Luzerne County Board of Elections has the authority and responsibility to investigate this election disaster.
Yet just six days after the election, on November 14th, the Board voted to send the investigation to the District Attorney, Sam Sanguedolce.
Twenty days after the election, on November 28th, the Board met and voted to not certify the election because the problems were obvious.
Then two days later, on November 30th, in a partisan vote following public pressure, three Democrat commissioners reversed course and voted to certify the election – in spite of the obvious problems.
To date, no official action has been taken in Luzerne County.
No report from the District Attorney.
No report from the Secretary of State.
No report from the Luzerne County Board of Elections.
There must be accountability.
Our committee is focused on figuring out how this happened and ensuring it does not happen ever again.
Especially as Pennsylvania prepares for a state election in May, and a presidential election next year.
In America, every interested and eligible person who wants to cast a ballot has the right to do so, and that vote must count in accordance with the law.
We invited several officials from Luzerne County to come today and answer some very straightforward questions about how this election disaster occurred. They're not here.
We also need to learn how they intend to prevent this from happening again in the future.
It’s disappointing they declined our invitation.
I hope those officials who refused to testify today are watching, to hear from voters in Luzerne County whose votes were suppressed due to their negligence.
For years, several of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have claimed states like Florida and Georgia that have implemented voter integrity laws are suppressing voters.
In fact, for two years I sat through dozens of hearings on this topic.
However, they never produced a single voter who wanted to vote and was unable to.
Contrast that to today, as we hold a hearing with evidence that voters were turned away from the polls.
Today we are working to bring transparency and accountability for the voters in Luzerne County who were failed by their local officials.
Citizens in Luzerne County deserve to be heard, they have the right to vote, they need answers from those who are elected to serve them.
My goal today is to provide transparency, to hold those responsible accountable, and to prevent this disaster from ever happening again.