by Mark Levy
Harrisburg, Pa. (AP) — Governor Tom Wolf’s administration and a voting-system builder are trying to prevent Republican lawmakers from expanding the “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election to a new front: the inspection of voting machines.
This is yet another move inspired by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
Lawyers for Wolf’s top election official, Veronica DeGrafenried, asked a court Friday afternoon to halt the digital data exchange scheduled for next Wednesday in sparsely populated Fulton County in southern Pennsylvania.
The election equipment used in last year’s presidential election in the heavily Republican county has already been disabled by the state after Fulton County inspected the equipment by a software company. The firm – West Chester-based software company Wake TSI – was not federally recognized to inspect voting machines, and it later played a role in a widely discredited partisan “audit” of Republicans in Arizona.
Allowing an equally unrecognized and inexperienced contractor hired by Senate Republicans of Pennsylvania to obtain digital data from the equipment would spoil the evidence in a Fulton County lawsuit challenging the state’s dissection. Yes, DeGrafenrid’s lawyers wrote in a court filing.
On December 10, the chairman of the investigative committee, Sen. Chris Dash, R-Jefferson, sent a letter requesting “digital data” from election computers and hardware used by Fulton County in the 2020 election.
Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems warned Fulton County that giving Senate Republicans’ contractor access to their equipment to obtain digital data violates their contract.
But Dominion — whose voting equipment has been at the center of some of the most blazing conspiracy theories about last year’s presidential election — said Fulton County has a backup copy of the data that it can easily access without giving Dominion access to its devices. can provide.
However, an attorney representing Fulton County, Tom King, said in an interview on Saturday that digital election data is not the only thing Dash wants.
Rather, Dash wants Senate Republicans’ contractor, Envoy Sage, to conduct a “forensic investigation” to determine whether Dominion’s equipment was the same equipment certified by the state of Pennsylvania for use in last year’s election, King. he said.
“I think people just want to know whether what was used in Fulton County was actually equipment that was certified for Dominion to supply in Pennsylvania or not,” King said. “Whether it was or not is not clear to us at this point.”
King said a county commissioner spoke with Dash and told him that the thrust of the investigation was about the Dominion equipment. He was not involved in Jago TSI’s inspection, Raja said.
Voting systems that pass anti-tampering tests are certified by the states. The US Election Assistance Commission accredits laboratories to test voting machines and provides guidance to states on how to maintain a chain of custody on voting systems.
King said the request is allowed under the contract and that he considers Envoy Sage “highly qualified” to do the job. Separately, the king also said that the practice would not affect the state’s rights in a court case or court.
Arguments were to take place in the court on Tuesday.
Trump and his allies have applied ongoing pressure to the battleground states where he lost to Democrat Joe Biden — in Pennsylvania — for his allies to vote for evidence to support their baseless claims about election fraud. To check voting machines and voter lists.
Dash – who has advocated reversing Biden’s victory over Trump in Pennsylvania – did not say why he is seeking access, or whether he is seeking equal access in other counties.
He did not return any message regarding this.
Dush has insisted that the undertaking has nothing to do with Trump or trying to reverse last year’s presidential election, but rather about fixing problems in state elections.
In any case, the analysis of voting machine data is not specifically outlined in the $270,000 contract with Senate Republican envoy Sage, raising questions about whether Trump-aligned groups are part of the bill, as he did in the Arizona undertaking. did.
Dash has said it wants to bring Arizona-style election “audits” to Pennsylvania.
Unlike in Arizona, a subpoena approved by Dash’s Republican-controlled state Senate committee to Pennsylvania election officials reduced the demand for ballots and voting machines, and other counties rejected less formal requests.
But in Fulton County, Dash has found a willing partner.
There, according to official returns, Trump won more than 85% of last year’s votes, and registered Republican voters outnumber Democrats by 7 to 2.
In internal emails released via public records requests after the election, two Fulton County Republican commissioners expressed solidarity with Republican senators who later sought to block Pennsylvania’s electoral votes from being cast for Biden. One wrote, “We cannot let this election be stolen.”
No prosecutor, judge or election board in Pennsylvania has raised concerns about widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and courts at all levels have dismissed claims of fraud, irregularities, and violations.
Follow Mark Levy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.