Pennsylvania Republicans discussing Arizona-style election probe

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Republicans in Pennsylvania’s Senate are discussing launching a privately funded audit of the 2020 election.

A three-senator delegation led by state Sen. Doug Mastriano visited Arizona in June to receive an overview of the Maricopa County probe into the election and last week sought legal advice from a Pennsylvania law firm on the legality of using private funds to finance a similar endeavor, according to The Associated Press.

“Transparency is a must in our republic,” the delegation said in a press release last month announcing their plans to visit the Maricopa Election Forensic Election Audit. “Every citizen should be confident that their vote counts.”

President Biden won Pennsylvania by just over a 1% margin in November. No objections to the results have been raised by county election boards in the state.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize the election audit in late January and in April began the probe, which included a forensic analysis of the ballot tabulation equipment used in the 2020 elections.

The Arizona effort was funded in part through a $150 million appropriation from the state’s operating budget. Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne also donated funds for the effort.

The proposal for a similar audit in Pennsylvania is likely to face opposition from Democratic lawmakers and in state courts, but a Philadelphia-based lawyer said the probe could be permissible under state law.

“While we cannot predict how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would decide the issue, in our opinion, to a reasonable degree of legal certainty, Pennsylvania law does not prohibit the Caucus or Committee from accepting or benefiting from such financial support,” lawyer Bruce S. Marks said in a recent letter to the Republican delegation obtained by the AP.

Mr. Mastriano, who chairs the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, led a private briefing last week to update the Republican delegation on his plan, which could include a subpoena of more than 2 million ballots, counting machines, and computer data to “develop legislation which will enhance voter participation and election integrity,” according to the AP.

“I don’t know the ins and outs. I don’t know who’s going to pay for an audit. I don’t know how extensive it might be,” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Camera Bartolotta told the AP. “I do know that there are millions of Pennsylvanians who have questions and concerns, and there is a lack of trust.”

Ms. Bartolotta confirmed last week’s briefing and said she wanted to ensure that any next steps will be constitutional and that her services will not be paid for by taxpayers.

Mr. Mastriano has been a vocal backer of former President Donald Trump’s claims that widespread voter fraud led to a fraudulent election. The claims have been rejected in courts and by Trump-appointed judges.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, also has contested the former president’s claims.

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