Following the model of the Arizona Senate-ordered independent audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results, top Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) requested “information and materials” from three Pennsylvania counties for a similar effort.
However, following a clear threat from Democratic state officials of repercussions for counties that cooperate, one of the counties selected by Mastriano announced that it would not submit its voting machines for the requested review, the Washington Examiner reported.
That stunning news came from the small, rural, and predominately Republican Tioga County. It remains unclear at this point if the other two counties targeted by Mastriano — Democrat-controlled Philadelphia County and Republican-controlled York County — will issue similar announcements in the near future.
GOP county bows to Democratic state official’s threats
Sen. Mastriano, chair of the state Senate’s Intergovernmental Operations Committee, had given the three counties until July 31 to respond to his request for certain information and materials necessary for a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election and 2021 primary.
He also hinted that subpoenas could be issued to enforce the requests and that additional counties could be added to the probe if deemed necessary.
Yet, shortly after he had issued that request, Pennsylvania’s acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid (D) issued a directive that warned all counties in the state against cooperating with the senator’s probe and threatened to decertify any election equipment or voting machines that were turned over, adding that the counties would be financially responsible for replacing them.
It sure looks like that threat worked, as a top Republican official in Tioga County specifically cited the untenable prospect of losing the county’s “extremely expensive machines” as the reason for refusing to turn anything over to Mastriano.
“We can’t be in a position where we don’t have the election machines, because we have to run the next election, these are extremely expensive machines and our position is we need to follow the direction that (Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid) has given us,” Tioga County Solicitor Christopher Gabriel said, according to the Associated Press.
The investigation will proceed
Though it appears that Sen. Mastriano has yet to specifically address the announcement from Tioga County, he released a statement this week in which he called out and condemned the “scare tactics” employed by Democratic state officials to “obstruct” his investigation and “intimidate” county officials into not cooperating.
Those officials would include the acting Secretary of State, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Gov. Tom Wolf.
Mastriano also noted the irony in that, “For people who once lectured the state about transparency and accountability, we all ask, what do they have to hide?”
The senator made it clear, however, that “The Intergovernmental Operations Committee will press forward in the pursuit of a forensic investigation.”