A top Republican in the Pennsylvania State Senate announced plans this week to conduct an independent “forensic audit” of the 2020 election processes and results, which will start with three counties and could be expanded to include more.
The Democrat-led state government has fired back, though, with an issued directive that essentially threatens financial consequences for any counties that cooperate with the proposed audit, the Washington Examiner reported.
Forensic audit deemed necessary
The idea for a county-level, post-election audit, modeled after the recently concluded effort in Arizona’s Maricopa County, was put forward by state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), chairman of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, with the three selected counties for audit being Philadelphia, Tiago, and York Counties.
In an op-ed posted to his website, Mastriano explained that he had requested the “information and materials” needed for the “forensic investigation” in order to help restore trust in the electoral system among the “millions” of Pennsylvanians who still harbored “serious doubts” about the reported results of the 2020 presidential contest.
He further insisted that the audit was necessary “for the sake of transparency and accountability” and that the results, however they turned out, would either prove that alleged fraud and irregularities or vindicate those who have insisted that everything was clean and fair in the prior election.
PA Secretary of State objects
But Sen. Mastriano’s requests haven’t sat well with the Democratic leadership of the state, nor were his assurances in terms of security and transparency satisfactory to Pennsylvania’s acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid, according to the Examiner, as evidenced by a state-wide directive she issued Thursday.
Degraffenreid declared that allowing third-party entities access to election equipment “undermines chain of custody requirements and strict access limitations necessary to prevent both intentional and inadvertent tampering with electronic voting systems.”
“It also jeopardizes the security and integrity of those systems and will negate the ability of electronic voting system vendors to affirmatively state that such systems continue to meet Commonwealth security standards, are validated as not posing security risks, and are able to be certified to perform as designed by the electronic voting system vendor and as certified by both the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Department of State.”
As such, the secretary prohibited all county boards of elections from providing “physical, electronic, or internal access to third parties” for any sort of audit or examination of state-certified election equipment.
That included, but was not limited to, “election management software and systems, tabulators, scanners, counters, automatic tabulating equipment, voting devices, servers, ballot marking devices, paper ballot or ballot card printers, portable memory media devices (thumb drives, flash drives and the like), and any other hardware, software or devices being used as part of the election management system.”
Counties on the hook
Should any of the counties comply with Mastriano’s request, which could soon be backed by subpoenas, any equipment to which third parties were granted access would be deemed “no longer secure or reliable to use” and be stripped of its certification or use authority. Furthermore, the counties would not be reimbursed by the state for the costs of replacing the decertified equipment.
This is nothing short of a coercive and manipulative threat to prevent counties from cooperating with a lawful, Pennsylvania State Senate investigation that it has the authority to conduct as it sees fit, and only serves to raise the question: Why, exactly, are Democratic officials in Pennsylvania so dead set against any additional inquiries into the 2020 election that they repeatedly insist was entirely on the up-and-up?