July 21 (Reuters) – Pennsylvania’s top election official decertified voting material from a rural county that participated in a 2020 election audit requested by a Republican state lawmaker and staunch ally of the former President Donald Trump.
Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said on Wednesday that Fulton County violated the state’s electoral code by giving a third party access to its electoral databases and other certified equipment during an audit of the 2020 results.
The audit was conducted in December at the request of Republican Senators Doug Mastriano and Judy Ward, who asked county officials to allow Wake Technology Services Inc to survey the county’s results, media reported.
Degraffenreid’s announcement was the latest salute in a battle between Mastriano, a proponent of Trump’s stolen false election claims, who is now working to conduct a larger “forensic investigation” into Trump’s loss in the State, and the administration of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. .
“These actions were taken in a way that was not transparent,” Degraffenreid said. “Due to the access granted to Wake TSI, the Fulton County certified system has been compromised.”
Fulton County officials and Wake TSI, based outside Philadelphia, did not respond to requests for comment. The company was also involved at one point in a contentious Arizona vote audit.
Neither Mastriano nor Ward responded to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.
Degraffenreid said Dominion Voting Systems, which leases tabulation machines to the county, also couldn’t verify that its equipment was safe to use.
Fulton County received a notification from Dominion that it was violating its contract and had to pay $ 25,000 to rent new equipment for the May 2021 primary, the Fulton County News reported last month.
There is no indication that the Fulton County audit found any irregularities.
ELECTORAL BATTLE FIELD
Trump took over Fulton, a south-central Pennsylvania county of about 15,000 people, with nearly 86 percent of the vote. But he lost Pennsylvania to Democratic President Joe Biden.
Republicans there and in other battlefield states continued audits of the November election, repeating Trump’s baseless claims that widespread fraud cost him a second term in the White House.
Pennsylvania has already conducted a so-called risk limitation audit of the 2020 election, and all counties have also audited a sample of their votes as required by law. None of these efforts revealed widespread fraud.
Mastriano nevertheless argued that a more comprehensive investigation involving examination of the equipment was needed. Earlier this month, he launched his “forensic investigation,” starting with requests for access to their voting machines in Tioga, Philadelphia and York counties.
Tioga’s three Republican commissioners said they could not comply, citing the likely cost of replacing its machines. While Philadelphia has not commented on the matter, the Democratic stronghold is also expected to reject Mastriano’s request.
In a meeting on Wednesday, York County Commissioner Julie Wheeler said a letter had been sent to Mastriano seeking clarification on various issues, including which audit firm would be used and who would pay for it.
Wheeler warned that replacing all of York’s voting equipment would cost more than $ 2.7 million, and said that “if there is support for a state-level forensic analysis, it appears that all counties should be included ”rather than just the current three.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Peter Cooney
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