Pennsylvania Governor Launches Election Security Task Force to Counter Threats to 2024 Voting

Pennsylvania governor unveils election security task force to mitigate threats to the 2024 vote

Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania is set to unveil a comprehensive initiative aimed at fortifying election security across federal, state, and local levels. This endeavor, named the Election Threats Task Force, seeks to ensure that the 2024 vote in Pennsylvania remains free from interference, misinformation, and other significant hurdles.

As reported by NBC News, the Election Threats Task Force will be spearheaded by Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt. It will bring together officials from various government agencies, spanning election administration, law enforcement, homeland security, and emergency management, among others.

Governor Shapiro emphasized the importance of upholding democracy, stating, “We take our responsibility as stewards of our democracy seriously, and the Election Threats Task Force will ensure all levels of government are working together to combat misinformation, safeguard the rights of every citizen, and ensure this election is safe, secure, free, and fair.”

Pennsylvania Governor Launches Election Security Task Force to Counter Threats to 2024 Voting
Pennsylvania Governor Launches Election Security Task Force to Counter Threats to 2024 Voting (Credits: CNN)

The primary objective of the task force is to coordinate strategies and exchange vital information among different offices with responsibilities related to election safety, which often operate independently. These include U.S. attorney’s offices, the state attorney general’s office, election officials from counties, Homeland Security departments, state police, information technology branches, and the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The overarching aim is to mitigate threats to elections, protect voters and election workers, and ensure accurate information dissemination regarding elections.

The formation of this task force comes nearly four years after the contentious 2020 election, where concerns over election workers’ safety, misinformation, and the speed of vote counting were prominent. Pennsylvania officials are now taking proactive measures to minimize potential risks.

Governor Shapiro has been actively enhancing the electoral process in preparation for the 2024 cycle, utilizing executive actions in the absence of legislative consensus. Notably, he implemented an order allowing automatic voter registration for individuals obtaining a driver’s license, a move criticized by some, including former President Trump.

Secretary Al Schmidt, appointed by Governor Shapiro, highlighted the task force’s dedication to combatting misinformation and ensuring accurate election information for eligible voters.

Governor Shapiro’s past experiences, notably as attorney general, have shaped his commitment to election security. This new task force complements previous initiatives, such as the Inter-Agency Election Preparedness and Security Workgroup initiated by former Governor Tom Wolf in 2018.

Despite these efforts, Pennsylvania has faced numerous attempts to undermine elections, including lawsuits challenging absentee ballots and efforts to audit and access ballots, particularly by Trump allies. Some county election officials have even hesitated to certify election results, fueling further skepticism.

While the task force aims to address various election-related issues, challenges such as the slow ballot counting in 2020 persist due to legislative inaction. Efforts to streamline ballot processing before Election Day have stalled in the divided Legislature, reflecting the broader political landscape where Republicans control the Senate, and Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House.