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Pennsylvania Election Audit To Start This Week After ‘Grandstanding’ GOP Senator Fired From Probe

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 24, 2021


A so-called forensic investigation into Pennsylvania’s presidential election results is now moving forward, as the state senate’s president pro tempore announced hearings will take place this week after he ousted the prior Republican who had been leading the controversial election audit effort.

Key Facts

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R) said in an interview Monday with pro-Trump radio host Wendy Bell the chamber would start hearings in the coming days and later said in a statement the Senate intends to “conduct a thorough forensic audit of recent elections—including using our subpoena powers.”

Corman told Bell he would commit to a “full forensic investigation” akin to the widely criticized audit playing out in Maricopa County, Arizona, and intended to examine materials like voter rolls and ballots.

The Senate is also joining a lawsuit challenging the state’s decision to decertify voting machines in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, which were examined by a third party as part of a separate election audit, in order to get a ruling that would allow them to examine other counties’ voting machines.

Corman’s commitment to holding hearings comes three days after he replaced state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who had been leading the election audit effort, with state Sen. Cris Dush, telling Bell that making sure the audit effort could stand up legally in court was “not a priority” to Mastriano and the lawmaker was more interested in publicity.

Mastriano’s attempt to run the election audit effort had come under fire even from Republicans, as commissioners in the right-leaning Tioga County—one of three counties that Mastriano requested turn over their voting materials—told the lawmaker to “withdraw his demands and to let responsible Republicans get back to work.”

Mastriano said last week the “powers that be” had forced him to pause the election audit, later claiming Corman had canceled a planned meeting to vote on subpoenas for counties’ voting equipment and threatened to revoke Mastriano’s committee chair position and fire his staff.

Crucial Quote

“We remain committed to conducting a full investigatory audit of recent elections to improve our election system going forward,” Corman said in a statement Friday as he replaced Mastriano, who he said “was only ever interested in politics and showmanship and not actually getting things done.” “We need someone to lead this effort who is more interested in real results than grandstanding at rallies.”

Chief Critic

In a statement emailed to Forbes early Saturday, Mastriano said if the audit is moved from his committee—as Corman has now done—he has “little confidence that a real investigation would ever take place.” Mastriano said he did not want his election audit to be a “glorified recount” and was “not willing to budge on a watered-down version of an investigation that is set up to fail.”

What To Watch For

Corman told Bell Monday he believes Dush, the new lawmaker leading the audit, will “move quickly” on it, but said he wants to make sure the investigation has “credibility” and could withstand legal challenges. A number of things are still unknown about how the audit could play out, including who will fund it—the Arizona audit has relied on private donations—and what third party group would run the probe. The lawmaker noted the state Senate “doesn’t have the authority to change” the presidential election results but can “go in and review those results,” but added, “If our work leads to someone else taking that work into a court of law, and changing those results, then so be it.” There is no evidence to support any claims of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania’s election that could change the results, and numerous lawsuits in the aftermath of the election alleging issues with the election process were thrown out.

Key Background

Mastriano’s election audit efforts began in early July when the state senator sent letters to Tioga, York and Philadelphia counties asking them to turn over all their voting materials so he could turn them over to a third party to be inspected. Pennsylvania’s secretary of state responded to Mastriano’s request by issuing a directive saying any county that turns over materials will have their voting machines decertified, which could cost counties potentially millions to replace them. All three counties—even the two that voted for former President Donald Trump in November—refused Mastriano’s request as a result, teeing up potential subpoenas for the materials before Mastriano was ousted from the audit effort. The Pennsylvania audit is part of a broader GOP trend of launching private election audits in the wake of the Arizona probe, which is now wrapping up and has faced widespread scrutiny for issues like a lack of transparency and how it’s being funded, including from Congress. The Biden administration has warned the audits could violate federal law by taking election materials out of election officials’ possession.

Further Reading

‘If our work leads to … changing those results, then so be it’: Senator says hearings begin this week in Pennsylvania election ‘investigation’ (Associated Press)

Top Pa. Senate Republican Jake Corman bashed Doug Mastriano and committed to a new election probe (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pennsylvania Election Audit Has Been ‘Stopped,’ GOP State Sen. Says As ‘Powers That Be’ Block Him From Issuing Subpoenas (Forbes)


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