(WHTM) — Most of Governor Shapiro’s cabinet appointees have sailed through their confirmation hearings. But his pick for the Department of State was in the hot seat for three hours on Wednesday, and he still isn’t done.
Al Schmidt, a Republican, was told not to expect preferential treatment from Republican senators.
“The party affiliation is not a rubber stamp for recommendation by this committee,” said Senator Chris Dush of the State Government Committee.
Several Republican senators protested the 2020 election and mistrust the process.
“This hearing is not about denying or relitigating the results of any election or the legitimacy of any public official. Nor is this about the presidential elections or any one specific election. This is about strengthening public confidence in every election at every level,” Dush said.
Schmidt said running elections is non-partisan and apolitical. He also promised not to issue new guidance less than 45 days before an election.
“I am an administrator. I am not an activist. I am an advocate for improving voter access and an advocate for improving election integrity,” said Schmidt.
But politics crept into the hearing.
“We all are aware of the horrific consequences of false or misinformation spread through media, social media, whomever, regarding elections, election fraud. We saw that outcome on January 6th. We saw a massive effort to try to overturn, you know, elections. And it’s an ongoing thing,” said Senator Katie Muth (D) of the State Government Committee.
“I think it’s a responsibility on us to take those allegations seriously and also to not spread them if they are unfounded. Because it does, I think, damage to confidence in election results if you’re not responsible in ensuring that,” Schmidt said at the hearing on Wednesday.
Schmidt said he followed the law with thorny mail-in ballots as Philadelphia administrator.
“I consistently voted to not count ballots that were not signed or dated by the voter,” Schmidt added.
“Mr. Secretary, is mail-in voting as secure as in-person voting?” asked Dush.
“When you apply for a mail-in ballot, you have to provide a driver’s license number or social security number. When you vote in person, you do not have to provide a driver’s license number or social security number,” said Schmidt.
Recent elections have become heated and contentious, but Schmidt hopes they return to boring.
“I would just add that elections are at best when they are nonpartisan,” Schmidt said.
Senator Dush said three hours wasn’t enough, and wants an additional hearing with Schmidt.