Trump’s Pennsylvania ally pushes for Arizona-style 2020 election audit


(Reuters) – A Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker and ally of former President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would attempt to launch an investigation into the 2020 election in Battlefield State, although an agency State urged counties not to comply with what it called a “sham record” of past elections.

FILE PHOTO: Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano speaks during a protest against the state’s extended stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID -19) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States on April 20, 2020. REUTERS / Rachel Wisniewski

In a parallel move to an ongoing contentious audit in Arizona, State Senator Doug Mastriano said he had sent letters to “several counties” requesting information necessary for a “forensic investigation” into the presidential election in November and municipal primaries last May.

Democratic President Joe Biden won the state by about 81,000 votes, four years after Trump’s victory helped propel the Republican to the presidency. The state legislature remained in the hands of the Republicans.

Mastriano, who repeated Trump’s baseless claims about widespread fraud in November, said in a statement that the investigation was necessary because millions of Pennsylvania residents doubted the veracity of the 2020 results.

Strongly Democratic Philadelphia, the state’s most populous county, and York County have confirmed receiving Mastriano’s requests for information, but have not indicated whether they intend to do so. conform. A spokesperson for Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, said he had not received such a request.

In a statement, the state agency overseeing the elections warned that any returned electoral machinery would have to be replaced with new equipment – a nod to the expenses resulting from the Arizona audit.

“The State Department encourages counties to decline to participate in any mock examinations of past elections,” the statement said. “We will oppose any attempt to disrupt our electoral process and undermine our elections. “

It was not immediately clear whether Mastriano, who said he was authorized to conduct the investigation as chairman of the state Senate’s Intergovernmental Operations Committee, had the support of Republican leaders in forcing the counties to provide information.

Pennsylvania has previously conducted a so-called risk mitigation audit of the 2020 election involving statistical sampling of ballots. The counties also verified a sample of their votes in accordance with the law. Neither of these efforts revealed widespread fraud.

Mastriano said the state audit looked at a small sample of ballots and was not sufficient. In his letter to York County, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Mastriano requested that various ballot processing machines and associated software be made available for inspection and also requested forensic images of the servers. and other electoral equipment.

Mastriano, considered a candidate for Pennsylvania governor in 2022, held a November 2020 election hearing in Gettysburg in which Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani made a series of unsubstantiated statements about fraud. Mastriano also attended the Jan.6 Trump rally in Washington that preceded a deadly attack on the United States Capitol, although he condemned the violence.

In June, he led a delegation of lawmakers to Phoenix for an audit tour of about 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County. County officials said last month they would replace voting materials that had been handed in for the Republicans-commissioned audit, fearing the process could compromise the safety of the machines.

Democrats Jay Costa, Pennsylvania Senate Minority Leader and State Senator Anthony Williams, wrote to Republican leaders on Wednesday, accusing Mastriano of “corrupting the committee process and politicizing it for the whims of the former president Donald Trump, “arguing that election monitoring resides with the state government committee, not the one chaired by Matriano.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney

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