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Pennsylvania Plans Task Force to Combat Election Disruptions

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Pennsylvania Plans Task Force to Combat Election Disruptions

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As a fall rematch between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump becomes increasingly likely, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania is announcing an Election Threats Task Force, a federal-state partnership, in the critical battleground state.

The task force, announced Thursday morning by Gov. Josh Shapiro, will seek to thwart attempts to disrupt elections as well as protect voters from intimidation. The organization will include the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, the Pennsylvania Department of State and multiple state agencies.

In a country already awash in disinformation and lies about the safety, security and integrity of elections, the task force points to how seriously elected officials are taking threats to the coming campaign.

Pennsylvania is one of the first battleground states, if not the first, to announce such a collaboration this far from November.

“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,” Mr. Shapiro said in a statement.

After the 2020 election, Pennsylvania election officials had to navigate a sustained effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn his re-election loss in a state that Mr. Biden had won by 80,000 votes.

Mr. Shapiro, then the attorney general, fought multiple lawsuits, including efforts to get millions of ballots thrown out. Other election officials, including Al Schmidt, a Republican who is now the secretary of the commonwealth and then a Philadelphia election official, faced death threats.

“In recent years, we’ve seen bad-faith actors attempt to exploit these changes by spreading lies and baseless conspiracy theories, and attempting to delegitimize our safe, secure and accurate elections,” Mr. Schmidt said in a statement. “This task force has been working together to develop and coordinate plans to combat this dangerous misinformation and continue providing all eligible voters with accurate, trusted election information.”

In addition to the task force, Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Schmidt created a fact-check page on the administration website, debunking numerous false claims about the 2020 election and voting in the state.

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