Pennsylvania Supreme Court Pauses Examination of Fulton County Voting Machines

 

Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee contractor Envoy Sage cannot yet gather data from Fulton County’s election devices according to a Friday order of the state Supreme Court. 

That directive stays part of a recent Commonwealth-Court ruling that allows the investigation to proceed. Fulton County’s commissioners have voted to comply with the Senate probe, which is part of a broader examination of the 2020 and 2021 Pennsylvania elections and has been spearheaded by the committee’s Republican Chairman Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro). The Democrat-run Pennsylvania Department of State and the voting machines’ manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems are litigating to stop it.

Pennsylvania’s high court will ultimately rule on whether or not the county must cancel the inspection of the machinery or at least commission a state-approved company to perform the review. Those seeking to quash the investigation, including Gov. Tom Wolf (D), want Envoy Sage to identify the individuals who would be handling the voting equipment and to assent to strict protocols should the court ultimately allow the review to take place. 

“I am disappointed with the administration’s continued efforts to prevent the inspection of Fulton County’s voting machines,” remarked Sen. Judy Ward (R-Hollidaysburg) whose district includes the county. “Today was supposed to be a day where we begin to get answers. Instead, our frustration continues due to the administration’s ongoing attempts to hinder the investigation.”

In the months after the 2020 presidential election—which saw Republican President Donald Trump win countywide by 5,739 votes and saw Democratic successor Joe Biden prevail statewide by 80,055 votes—the county hired West Chester, PA-based contractor Wake TSI to inspect the county’s voting machines and vote returns. Last summer, Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of State Veronica W. Degraffenreid (D) decertified the election devices, asserting that examination of the equipment by a private company breached the commonwealth’s election code. 

Fulton County meanwhile faces litigation from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania and the left-leaning nonprofit American Oversight to compel the disclosure of records pertaining to the county’s election audit. The plaintiffs say that officials have released text messages written by county commissioners pertaining to the probe but that other communications remain unreleased, including written exchanges with state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) who initially called for the audit.

The ACLU made its records request in July. When the organization did not receive all the documents it had requested, it appealed to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records which instructed the county to comply with the full extent of the inquiry in September.

“Pennsylvanians deserve the truth about this sham review and, under the state’s Right-to-Know Law, the county is required to produce the records we requested,” Melanie Sloan, American Oversight’s senior adviser, said in a statement. “American Oversight tried to work cooperatively with the county to ensure all records are made public, but we’ve been stymied at every turn. Our patience is exhausted; we have no choice but to vindicate in court the public’s right to these records.”

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to bradvasoliwriter@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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