Pennsylvania Decertifies County’s Voting Machines After Partisan Election Audit ‘Compromised’ Them
The Pennsylvania Department of State has decertified Fulton County’s voting machines after they were inspected by a private IT company behind Arizona’s partisan election audit, as other Pennsylvania counties now face similar requests for their voting equipment from a GOP state senator launching a new election probe.
Fulton County, which former President Donald Trump won in November with 85.6% of the vote, authorized Wake County TSI to inspect its voting machines in December at the request of Republican Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano.
According to the Arizona Mirror, Wake TSI was contracted to do so by Defending the Republic, a nonprofit organization founded by far-right attorney Sidney Powell, who has spread baseless conspiracy theories alleging election fraud involving the Dominion Voting Systems voting machines used in Fulton County and across the country.
The Washington Postreports a number of Republican-leaning counties were contacted in the wake of the election to voluntarily turn over their election equipment for an audit, but Fulton County appears to be the only one that agreed to the request.
Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid informed the county on Tuesday that because Fulton County granted Wake TSI access to their machines, the Pennsylvania government and Dominion cannot “verify that the impacted components of Fulton County’s leased voting system are safe to use in future elections.”
Fulton County let Wake TSI—a company that has “no knowledge or expertise in election technology”—access its voting materials “in a manner that was not transparent or bipartisan” and the county’s “certified system has been compromised” as a result, Degraffenreid wrote in a letter to Fulton County officials.
Fulton County has not yet responded to a request for comment.
$25,000. That’s how much Fulton County already paid to lease new voting machines for the county’s municipal elections in May, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported, after Dominion refused to let the county use the voting machines Wake TSI had inspected. The county will likely now have to spend far more to entirely replace the voting machines. York County, Pennsylvania, has estimated it would cost at least $2.7 million to replace its equipment, for instance, and Tioga County in the state estimated to Reuters it would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
What To Watch For
Mastriano has issued requests to York, Tioga and Philadelphia counties asking for them to voluntarily turn over their voting machines and election materials—with other counties potentially to follow—by July 31, so that a third-party company can examine them as part of a so-called “forensic investigation.” York and Tioga counties have already said they’re unwilling to cooperate with Mastriano’s request because it could result in them being decertified. The Republican lawmaker has said he intends to subpoena the counties should they not voluntarily provide the materials, likely setting up a legal showdown as Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro has vowed to fight any potential subpoenas.
Fulton County’s election audit predated the partisan audit now under way in Maricopa County, Arizona, which Wake TSI similarly participated in until pulling out of the recount in May when their contract expired. The Arizona audit has come under widespread criticism and is now under investigation by the House Oversight Committee, but has nevertheless spurred a new nationwide effort by Republican state lawmakers to launch their own election probes. In addition to Pennsylvania, efforts are also under way in states including Wisconsin and Georgia, and Texas House lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday that would initiate an audit of their results. While the partisan audits will not change the election results, critics have warned they could sow further distrust in the vote count—as happened in Fulton County, where Wake TSI concluded in its final report that while the county’s election was “well run,” there were several “issues of note.” “While these may seem minor the impact on an election can be huge,” Wake TSI claimed in the report, which the Post notes was seized on by figures on the right as evidence of potential fraud. There is no credible evidence of widespread election fraud in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, including involving Dominion voting machines.