A Pennsylvania Republican state senator has signaled plans to undertake an Arizona-style “forensic audit” of the 2020 election, despite the fact that several lawsuits and multiple audits already affirmed President Joe Biden’s comfortable 80,555-vote victory in the Keystone State.
After state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) issued letters to multiple counties requesting broad categories of information, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) — who successfully fended off multiple post-election lawsuits by former President Donald Trump’s allies — denounced the effort as a “sham,” a “partisan fishing expedition,” and a waste of taxpayer money.
“Although two legal audits have already been completed in Pennsylvania, Senator Mastriano is now requesting a laundry list of confidential and privileged information from three Pennsylvania counties in continued efforts to pay homage to former President Trump and further spread misinformation about our elections,” Shapiro wrote in a statement.
Mastriano’s proposed “audit” appears to take its inspiration from its counterpart in Arizona, where a firm known as Cyber Ninjas reportedly inspected ballots for bamboo fibers in service of a conspiracy theory that fraudulent votes created in Asia wound up in the Grand Canyon State in November. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) fought in court to secure election monitors providing a modicum of transparency for the effort, leading to her writing a letter itemizing what her office flagged as irregularities.
Hobbs noted that searching for watermarks under ultraviolet light, measuring ballot thickness, and inspecting ballots under a microscope are measures which are both irregular and unnecessary.
“Though conspiracy theorists are undoubtedly cheering on these types of inspections—and perhaps providing financial support because of their use—they do little other than further marginalize the professionalism and intent of this ‘audit,'” she wrote on May 5th.
Heeding Arizona’s lessons, the Pennsylvania attorney general advised any of the counties Mastriano asked to participate in the so-called “forensic audit” to turn down that invitation.
“These counties should refuse to participate in this partisan fishing expedition,” Shapiro wrote. “This ‘audit’ could risk decertifying the counties’ voting machines, costing county taxpayers’ millions of dollars. Right now this information is being requested voluntarily but should subpoenas be issued, you can expect our office to do everything to protect the Commonwealth, its voters and the free, fair election that was held in Pennsylvania.”
The attorney general’s warning about taxpayer expenses is not merely theoretical. Arizona’s Maricopa County had to replace its voting machines after the state Senate placed them under the control of Cyber Ninjas and others not certified to handle them.
“With the backup equipment and the other certified tabulation equipment not subpoenaed, the Board of Supervisors, Elections Department and Recorder’s Office are working with our current vendor to replace the subpoenaed equipment so we will be able to serve voters for the November 2021 election,” the county wrote in a statement on June 28.
After Mastriano announced the probe on his website, state Democrats asked caucus leaders with Pennsylvania’s GOP to end “misguided and political farce immediately,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“To conduct yet another review with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars is an insult to our stewardship of those resources,” the Democratic states senators reportedly wrote in their letter.
[Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images]
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