by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 7, 2021) — Chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Doug Mastriano (R) announced on Wednesday he has launched a forensic audit of the November 3, 2020 election and 2021 primary which will involve multiple counties in the Commonwealth.
According to 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump in a rally speech on Friday night, various state legislators are taking action about what Trump claims was widespread fraud, resulting in a “rigged” election which cost him a second term.
Mastriano’s declaration follows a forensic election audit taking place in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa, which appears to have provided a model for legislators from other states, including Pennsylvania, to explore launching their own.
According to Mastriano’s press release, the endeavor “is necessary as millions of Pennsylvanians have serious doubts about the accuracy of the 2020 General Election. A January poll from Muhlenberg University showed that 40% of Pennsylvania voters are not confident that the results of the 2020 Election accurately reflected how Pennsylvanians voted.…”
Further, Mastriano wrote, “During debate on election reform a couple weeks ago, some of my colleagues regrettably dismissed these poll numbers as an inconvenient truth and went on to assert that the only reason there is distrust in our election process was because of the ‘conspiracy theories and lies’ from those they disagree with politically. This sort of ad hominem attack does nothing to address the concerns of millions of voters. The case for a forensic investigation of the 2020 general election is evident to any unbiased observer.”
On page 2 of his press release, Mastriano recounted the “guidance” and opinion issued by the Commonwealth’s Department of State and state Supreme Court, respectively, which not only contradicted one another, but also allowed ballots arriving up to three days beyond Election Day to be counted, contrary to Commonwealth law.
There were approximately 2.7 million “mail-in” ballots cast by Pennsylvanians in November, Mastriano reported, as opposed to approximately 263,000 four years earlier, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many of these ballots were counted at off-site locations with little outside observation or oversight,” he wrote. “Furthermore, mail ballots without signature verification were permitted to be counted across the Commonwealth.”
Difficulties such as running out of ballots and improper labeling of ballots occurred during May’s primary elections, Mastriano said, also requiring investigation for the sake of “transparency and accountability,” particularly in light of a veto of HB 1300 from Gov. Tom Wolf (D), which Mastriano termed a “comprehensive election reform bill.”
Pennsylvania’s legislature has a majority of Republicans in both chambers.
In his June 30 veto of the bill, Wolf wrote, in part:
Pennsylvania had a free, fair, and secure election in November 2020 with record turnout, in which people embraced male-in voting, and the results have been confirmed by two statewide audits. These results are a testament to the robustness of our existing election system, but also the many hard working local officials who conduct our elections in an earnest and transparent way. While the bill includes some potential areas of improvement– such as giving counties more time to pre-canvass, increasing poll worker pay, and expanding the use of electronic poll books– the legislation is incurably riddled with unacceptable barriers to voting…”
Update, July 8, 2021, 6:56 p.m. EDT: Mastriano released a video of his announcement here.