State Rep. Doug Mastriano, who said he was inspired to run for governor by former President Donald Trump, is expected to meet opposition from Democrats in the Legislature as well as state officials who have condemned attempts to challenge the integrity of the November contest during which Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
By sending out letters to "several" counties on Wednesday, Mastriano, who is chairman of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, is satisfying the wishes of Trump and his allies who have requested "forensic" audits in more battleground states that they maintained were stolen due to fraud despite election officials saying they were secure and the courts rejecting lawsuits meant to reverse the results.
Like in Arizona, post-election audits by election officials bestowed no comprehensive fraud, but Trump and his allies are requesting more in-depth partisan probes while calling into question several aspects of the election, including the voting machines used. But there have been explosive consequences. Maricopa County officials announced last week that their voting machines that were called for the audit will be removed from service after Arizona's Democratic secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, threatened to decertify the equipment.
Messages were sent to Philadelphia County, York County, and Tiago County, Mastiano said in a Wednesday morning interview on One America News Network, but there could be more in his sights if "sufficient evidence" of "shenanigans and corruption or fraud" is found.
"We have asked these counties to respond by July 31st with a plan to comply," Mastriano said in an op-ed posted to his website. "The counties represent different geographical regions of Pennsylvania and differing political makeups. Some are Republican while others are Democrat, which means that this will be a balanced investigation."
More than the 2020 election being cited, the 2021 primary is also, during which there were problems with machines in Luzerne County. Subpoenas were not specifically mentioned in the post but stay an option. Subpoenas were used to collect ballots and other election materials in Maricopa County, but not before the GOP-led Arizona Senate went to court in a legal fight against the county, and a judge determined the subpoenas were "legal and enforceable."
A comparable legal engagement could play out in Pennsylvania, delaying plans for the audit. In a statement following Mastriano's announcement, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro accused the lawmaker's continued efforts of being a way for him to "pay homage to former President Trump and further spread misinformation about our elections," and he prompted county officials not to follow the requests.