Republican county officials in Pennsylvania’s Tioga County called Tuesday for a Republican state senator leading a potentially costly election audit to stop his investigation and let them “get back to work,” as state Sen. Doug Mastriano ramps up his efforts to subpoena voting machines and election materials.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump outside the … [+]
Mastriano has requested Tioga, York and Philadelphia counties turn over election materials—including ballots and voting machines—to him so they can be inspected as part of a “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election, but all three counties have declined to voluntarily participate in the probe.
Tioga County’s three county commissioners, who Reuters previously reported are all Republicans, read a statement at a board meeting Tuesday calling on Mastriano to “withdraw his demands and to let responsible Republicans get back to work” on other issues like Covid-19 and the opioid crisis.
The county commissioners decried Mastriano’s audit effort as a “blunder” made “without the authority of his committee or the Senate” and said Mastriano “began his one-man quest with a false accusation” that counties that decline to participate in his investigation have something to hide.
Tioga County had previously declined to voluntarily turn over their voting equipment after Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid issued a directive telling counties not to comply with the probe and said any county that turns their voting machines over to a third party will have them decertified.
In a letter sent to Mastriano on July 29 and viewed by Forbes, Tioga County attorney Christopher P. Gabriel told the lawmaker the county would cooperate with his investigation only if Mastriano provided the county with sufficient funds to replace its voting machines for its fall election, to which Gabriel told Forbes Tuesday the county never received a response.
Mastriano’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
“A thoughtful process where other Republican senators worked together to allow counties to grant access to election information may have been possible, but Senator Mastriano likely squandered any such opportunity by acting alone, with no support from anyone else and no authority from his committee or the Senate,” the Tioga County commissioners said, adding Mastriano’s “noise” about his election audit directly caused Degraffenreid’s directive and “ensure[d] no county can provide access to its voting machines.” “Other Republicans are now scrambling to clean up his mess. Again.”
What To Watch For
Mastriano told Newsmax on August 3 he expected to issue subpoenas within the next two weeks against Tioga County and the other two counties for their election materials, after the counties refused to voluntarily provide the materials by a July 31 deadline. But the Associated Press noted Tuesday no public notice has been filed for a vote on the subpoenas and party leadership has not signaled its support. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has indicated he intends to fight any subpoenas in court.
74.7%. That’s the percentage of voters in Tioga County who voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Mastriano requested election materials from Tioga, York and Philadelphia counties in early July in an effort to launch his own “forensic investigation” in line with the controversial privately funded recount playing out in Maricopa County, Arizona. York County—which, like Tioga County, also voted for former President Donald Trump—said in July they would also decline to turn over their election materials because of the threat their voting machines would be decertified, and Philadelphia County commissioner Lisa Deeley rejected Mastriano’s request on July 30, saying complying could “impair our ability to operate fair and secure elections.” The possibility that counties could have to pay thousands or millions of dollars to replace their voting machines is not an idle threat, as Pennsylvania decertified Fulton County’s voting machines in July after it participated in a separate third-party audit. Mastriano has said he intends to use his probe to examine materials like ballots and voting machines for any purported irregularities following unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, and while his investigation would not change the state’s election results, critics warn it could sow further distrust in the vote count.