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Lebanon County state Rep. Russ Diamond (R-102) says he plans to introduce a bill that would remove every registered voter in Pennsylvania from voter rolls and require each to re-register if they wish to vote in upcoming elections.
The mass purge of every state voter is necessary, according to Diamond, to update or replace the commonwealth’s voter registration system, known as the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, or “SURE.”
To allow time for the rollout of a new or updated SURE system, Diamond says he wants to delay the May 2022 primary election until August, which would leave just three months between the primary and the November general election.
He added that an election delay might also be needed to resolve any disputes over the upcoming congressional redistricting process.
According to Pennsylvania Department of State figures from June 2020, there were over 8.6 million registered voters in Pennsylvania, about 87,000 of whom lived in Lebanon County.
Diamond criticized the SURE system in January, incorrectly claiming that it contributed to more votes being counted than were actually cast, statewide and in the county, in the November 2021 presidential election.
Diamond’s January allegations were refuted by then Lebanon County Director of Elections and Voter Registration, Michael Anderson.
Diamond announced his current challenge to the SURE system in a co-sponsorship memo issued on Oct. 28 to his General Assembly colleagues.
The co-sponsorship memo gives no new reasons for challenging the SURE system, simply referring to “troubling questions regarding the veracity of our voter polls,” “the integrity of the voter data managed by the SURE system,” and claiming that it is “riddled with errant and/or outdated voter information.”
Among other things, Diamond’s proposed legislation would require the Pennsylvania Department of State to “update the SURE system or develop a new system to maintain registration records.”
Diamond’s bill also says “Prohibition – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a registration record in existence on the effective date of this section may not be transferred to the updated SURE system or the new system.”
Anderson, who left the county’s top election post in September to run its Domestic Relations office, told LebTown last week that the Department of State was already working on a new SURE when he left office. He added that, at that time, the DOS told him that the new system wouldn’t be ready to go until after the 2022 elections.
Anderson questioned whether a new SURE system that could handle a re-registration of 9 million voters in time for an election next August was a realistic possibility.
In an email exchange with LebTown last week, Diamond referred to “the Department of State’s caginess on the details of implementing a new SURE system.”
The Department of State had not responded to a request for comment by publication time.
County Clerk Jamie Wolgemuth told LebTown last week that, to his knowledge, no one at the county had been contacted in advance by Diamond about his proposed legislation.
Wolgemuth also speculated that a large number of the county’s 87,000-plus voters may not realize they had been removed from rolls when they go to the polls in August, forcing the county to issue a large number of provisional ballots that would have to be counted after election day, delaying a final tally.
On that point, Diamond told LebTown “the only voters I would expect to not re-register are those currently in the system who are dead, have moved out of state, or are not actually eligible citizens.”
He added in an Oct. 29 Facebook post that “honest Pennsylvanians, with plenty of notice, and a months-long window to do it, would absolutely be willing to re-register to vote.”
Diamond’s proposed legislation also requires proof of residency and U.S. citizenship before anyone can re-register. Re-registering voters would have to present a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or one of three documents issued by the federal government: a certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, or “Report of Birth Abroad by United States Citizen.”
Those documents would have to be presented to and verified by county voter offices, according to Anderson.
Responding to questions about the cost of his proposal and whether there was enough time between whenever his bill would be signed into law and an August election, Diamond said that “certainly, having every Pennsylvanian re-register to vote would be a huge undertaking, and I envision a massive statewide campaign to get it done. How many millions of dollars have been spent on mask and vaccine PR campaigns? The Governor just committed almost $100 million to getting just 72,000 state workers vaccinated.”
He added that “I believe a fraction of those Biden bucks we squirreled away would be well-spent on such a registration effort. I also envision counties setting up remote registration teams to accomodate the elderly, disabled, and infirmed. Just like we offered to help counties pay for election systems upgrades … we could commit resources here as well, even to the extent of helping folks without birth certificates get a birth certificate.”
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