The trio of commissioners in rural Tioga County, which was won by former President Donald Trump in November, decided they would not allow access to their voting machines after Pennsylvania's Department of State advised counties against giving "third-party entities" access to the equipment or else they'd risk decertification.
“We can’t be in a position where we don’t have the election machines because we have to run the next election, these are extremely expensive machines, and our position is we need to follow the direction that [acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid] has given us,” the county’s solicitor, Christopher Gabriel, declared Wednesday.
Degraffenreid's memo noted that the state would not reimburse any cost of replacing equipment in counties that break with the directive. This comes after state Rep. Doug Mastriano, in his capacity as the chairman of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, sent letters to Philadelphia, York, and Tioga counties last week as part of an Arizona-style inquiry looking for evidence of fraud.
A deadline of July 31 was set, and threatened to pursue subpoenas if they don't comply, and said other counties could be added depending on what is found in the review. Mastriano has also had sharp criticism of Gov. Tom Wolf's administration of "attempts of obstruction" and vowed to press onward with the audit.
It is not yet clear how the other two counties will respond to Mastriano's request. Tioga County has yet to issue a formal response to Mastriano, according to Gabriel, and it remains hazy whether or not it will offer any election materials or information to the lawmaker.
Pennsylvania Senate Democrats celebrated the news Tioga County planned not to comply with the request for access to its election machines, announcing they had sent a letter urging it to reject the "fraudit."
Commissioner Roger Bunn, a Republican, claimed Tioga County audited the 2020 presidential election in accordance with state law and found no problems before certifying the results, as per the Associated Press.
Should Mastriano, who toured the Maricopa County audit and sought legal advice for his own endeavor, choose to pursue subpoenas, he is predicted to face resistance in court similar to the legal fight between Maricopa County and the GOP-led Arizona Senate earlier this year.
Trump lost the state of Pennsylvania by just over 80,000 votes, or 1 percentage point, to President Joe Biden. The former president has cheered on Mastriano's efforts. With Biden delivering a speech on voting rights in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Trump released a statement in which he accused the Democrat of being in "a rush in order to stop" the review and claimed the City of Brotherly Love "was a cesspool of corruption, which will soon be revealed by the audit."