Just over seven weeks ago, the Democrat Secretary of the Commonwealth for Pennsylvania, Pedro Cortes, abruptly and shockingly resigned from his post after just over two years. His resignation followed a government finding that non-citizens had registered to vote and many did in fact vote in past elections due to a "glitch" in the commonwealth's motor-voter software.
Since this time, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and his office have not offered any explanation as to the circumstances of Secretary Cortes's resignation--which has only exacerbated the mystery and intrigue surrounding this story.
Earlier this week, Lowman Henry, the CEO of Pennsylvania's conservative-leaning The Lincoln Institute, authored a column on Secretary Cortes's abrupt resignation and the lack of transparency of the whole situation, which was published in a number of local Pennsylvania newspapers.
Mr. Henry's article explains that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has started an official inquiry to see how non-citizen could register to vote and actually cast ballots in Pennsylvania elections, but quickly has become intertwined with Secretary Cortes's resignation. Mr. Henry writes:
[ ] State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who chairs the State Government Committee, asked the Pennsylvania Department of State — the agency that oversees elections — if there was a procedure in place to cross-check the state’s voter registration rolls with driver licenses issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Foreign nationals can legally obtain a driver’s license, but their status as a non-citizen is so noted in the application process. To date the Department of State has refused to answer the committee’s questions and has not verified whether or not such cross-checking has occurred. Metcalfe further pointed out that there is no procedure in place for verifying U.S. citizenship in the voter registration process. Thus there is no way of actually knowing how many illegal voters are on the rolls.
Adding to the intrigue was the abrupt and unexpected resignation of Pedro Cortez [sic]. Cortez served as Secretary of the Department of State, a position he held in both the [Gov.] Rendell and Wolf administrations. Cortez’s resignation came days after media reports spotlighting the foreign national problem. In what Metcalfe termed “suspicious timing,” Cortez was gone. Gov. Wolf, who pledged a greater level of government transparency in his administration, has added a few stones to the wall by refusing to disclose exactly why Cortez resigned. Right-to-Know requests filed by media organizations seem to indicate the Cortez resignation was not voluntary. . . It is true cabinet secretaries serve at the pleasure of the governor. But, they must also be confirmed by the state Senate and, especially when dealing with election integrity, have a further obligation to be transparent with the public. . . .
Mr. Henry continues by noting Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania Democrats' track record on election integrity efforts, or lack thereof:
Gov. Wolf has already opposed such election integrity safeguards as requiring voters to produce a photo ID when they arrive at their polling place. Wolf and Democrats in general[ ] claim photo ID is a GOP plot to discourage voter turnout. This though photo IDs are universally available, and needed even to buy cough medicine at the corner drug store.
So the governor and his administration have a history of failing to take prudent steps to ensure the integrity of the state’s election system. … The State Government Committee lacks subpoena power to force information from the Department of State, but the House should take whatever action is needed to compel testimony. Lawmakers are elected by We the People to represent us and appointed bureaucrats should not be allowed to refuse to answer whatever questions they might have.
Lowman Henry concludes by calling on Pennsylvania Governor Wolf to provide "a full and complete explanation for the departure of Secretary Cortez." And further states that something just seems off with the whole situation and it feels like there is an attempt to hid it from the public.
The RNLA agrees. We believe the full story surrounding Secretary Cortes's ousting should be made public. Also, the public should be made aware of the full extent of these non-citizens voting in the critical swing state of Pennslyvania. We will continue to follow and highlight any developments that arise.