Top Pennsylvania Republican Vows to Review 2020 Election Results

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Politics|A top Republican in Pennsylvania promises to review the 2020 results as conspiracy theories flourish.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/24/us/politics/pennsylvania-election-audit.html

Jake Corman, the Republican leader of the Pennsylvania Senate, said he expected to use the full power of the state’s General Assembly, including subpoenas, to conduct a review of the 2020 election results.
Credit...Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News, via Associated Press

Nick Corasaniti

  • Aug. 24, 2021Updated 2:34 p.m. ET

The top Republican in the Pennsylvania State Senate promised this week to carry out a broad review of the 2020 election results, a move that comes as G.O.P. lawmakers continue to sow doubts about the contest’s legitimacy by pushing to re-examine votes in battleground states like Arizona.

State Senator Jake Corman, who serves as president pro tempore of the G.O.P.-controlled chamber, made the comments in an interview with a right-wing radio host, and they were first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday. His remarks were the strongest sign yet that Pennsylvania — which President Biden won by more than 80,000 votes — may press forward with a review of 2020 results, despite no evidence of voter fraud that would have affected the outcome.

In the interview, Mr. Corman said that he wanted to begin “almost immediately” and that hearings would begin this week. He added that he expected to use the full power of the state’s General Assembly, including subpoenas, to conduct the review, which he referred to as a “forensic investigation.”

“We can bring people in, we can put them under oath, we can subpoena records, and that’s what we need to do and that’s what we’re going to do,” Mr. Corman said. “And so we’re going to move forward.”

Previously, State Senator Doug Mastriano, a Republican and vocal proponent of former President Donald J. Trump’s falsehoods about the election, had called for a review of results in three counties.

Until recently the chair of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, he sent letters requesting ballots, records and machines from Philadelphia County, which encompasses the state’s largest city and which Mr. Biden won with over 80 percent of the vote; York County, south of Harrisburg, which Mr. Trump won handily; and Tioga County, in the northern part of the state, which Mr. Trump also carried with ease. All three counties refused to comply, and Mr. Mastriano’s legal authority to enforce the requests remains unclear.

Last week, Mr. Corman removed Mr. Mastriano from his position as chair of the committee and installed State Senator Cris Dush, also a Republican, to lead the panel and oversee the review.

In the interview, Mr. Corman expressed his own doubts about the election.

“I don’t necessarily have faith in the results,” he said. “I think that there were many problems in our election that we need to get to the bottom of.”

Mr. Corman’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Veronica Degraffenreid, who as the acting secretary of the commonwealth oversees Pennsylvania’s elections, has discouraged counties from participating in any election reviews, noting that any inspection of voting machines by uncredentialed third parties would result in their decertification, and that counties would have to bear the considerable costs of replacing the equipment.

“The Department of State encourages counties to refuse to participate in any sham review of past elections that would require counties to violate the trust of their voters and ignore their statutory duty to protect the chain of custody of their ballots and voting equipment,” Ms. Degraffenreid’s office said in a statement last month.

It remains unclear exactly how Mr. Corman and the Pennsylvania Senate will proceed with their review, including what they might seek in terms of equipment and records, and which counties they might focus on. Mr. Corman did say that, after talking with fellow legislators in Arizona, he was looking for a “neutral arbiter” to help carry out the review — a potential nod to how the Maricopa County review became widely ridiculed in part because the chief executive of the company carrying out the re-examination had promoted conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines costing Mr. Trump victory in the state.

“I think it’s important that we get people involved that don’t have ties to anybody, that are professional, that will do the job so that we can stand behind the results,” Mr. Corman said.

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