Election investigations move forward in Pennsylvania, other states, as Arizona audit winds down
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July 9, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The forensic election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, is winding down, but investigations into the 2020 election are just getting started in swing states across the country.
Contractors last month finished a hand recount of around 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa, Arizona’s largest county, and are now examining records of problematic ballots. Arizona senators ordered the audit, which finally began in April after months of legal challenges by Maricopa officials and the Democratic Party.
A final report by auditors is expected later this summer, and Arizona senate president Karen Fann has already said that the audit has turned up evidence of “serious issues.”
In the meantime, lawmakers and concerned citizens in other states that certified narrow victories for Joe Biden last year have launched new election reviews, including in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin, while some Republicans continue pushing for audits in states like Michigan and Nevada.
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania state senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) announced that he requested election materials from Philadelphia County and at least two other counties for
a “forensic investigation.” Mastriano, chairman of the state senate’s Intergovernmental Operations Committee, told the Epoch Times his audit would be “even deeper” than Arizona’s.
“It takes a hard look at software, machine, scanners, in addition to looking at all the ballots themselves to see if they were hand-filled in or copied by a machine,” he said. “So a scientific approach to get to the bottom of what happened, what went right, what went wrong in an election. It takes out all bias.”
Counties could face subpoenas if they refuse to respond to Mastriano’s requests before July 31. Pennsylvania Democrats and local officials are likely to sue, however, as with the Maricopa audit. Pennsylvania’s anti-Trump attorney general, Josh Shapiro, has pledged that his office would “do everything” to fight any subpoenas issued by Mastriano.
The Nov. 3 election in Pennsylvania was notoriously marred by irregularities, like the loss of thousands of mail-in ballots, a rash of machine glitches, and theft of election equipment in Philadelphia. In an op-ed about his audit initiative, Sen. Mastriano cited “hundreds of affidavits alleging firsthand fraud, irregularities, and illegal behavior witnessed at polling places.”
Further concerns raised by Republican legislators include the confirmed existence of over 11,000 illegal immigrants on voter rolls ahead of the 2020 election, as well as millions of dollars of private election process funding by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Republican leaders clashed over the possibility of an Arizona-style audit prior to Mastriano’s announcement on Wednesday, and former President Donald Trump has indicated that he may back primary challengers of those who do not support an audit. Pennsylvania lawmakers recently passed a provision to create a state bureau of election audits, though that measure was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
In Georgia, Henry Superior Court Judge Brian Amero ruled in June that an analysis of over 145,000 mail-in ballots in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, could move forward. Poll watcher Garland Favorito and a group of voters had sued county officials for a review of the ballots.
Judge Amero was reportedly moved by the testimony of election monitors, some of them Democrats, who said that they observed potentially thousands of ballots for Joe Biden that looked photocopied, according to RealClearInvestigations. Biden was certified the winner of Georgia in 2020 by just under 12,000 votes.
A ruling handed down by Amero on June 24 named five members of the Fulton County election board as respondents in Favorito’s lawsuit and allowed an investigation of the ballots continue, Just the News reported.
The decision came after revelations that officials with the office of Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger inspected hundreds of Fulton ballots after Amero put them under a protective order. Raffensperger did not reveal the investigation to the judge or to the public, RealClearInvestigations found.
Last month, Just the News also published a contractor’s report to Raffensperger that detailed “serious” election issues in Fulton County on Election Day. The contractor, Carter Jones, reported what appeared to be double-counting of ballots, poor security protocol, and “a massive chain of custody problem,” among other things.
Wisconsin Republicans announced last week that they will be hiring a former state supreme court justice to lead a probe into 2020 election irregularities and possible wrongdoing by activists connected to Mark Zuckerberg.
The investigation follows reports in March that activists with the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a nonprofit that Zuckerberg funded with over $350 million last year, had access to Wisconsin ballot storage rooms before the general election. A recent analysis by a Wisconsin think tank determined that millions of dollars of Zuckerberg’s uneven election process funding likely led to thousands of additional votes for Democrats in the Badger State.
Investigators tapped by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature will have subpoena power and will include retired law enforcement officers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in May.
Trump has criticized Vos, however, for not initiating for a forensic audit, saying that Vos is “actively trying to prevent” an audit.
At least one Wisconsin resident has begun his own investigation of the 2020 election. Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Peter Bernegger has been analyzing thousands of ballots in various municipalities with his own equipment, according to local officials. “We’re finding a lot of interesting things,” Bernegger has said.
Election investigations face greater hurdles in neighboring Michigan, where top Republicans have largely rejected reports of fraud, despite more than 7,000 affidavits alleging voter fraud that were delivered to the state capitol last month.
Two weeks ago, commissioners of Michigan’s Cheboygan County requested a county-wide audit to confirm whether results were “accurately reported by the county’s Dominion vote tabulator and Election System and Software machine.” That request is likely doomed, however, as it needs approval from Democratic secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, who has repeatedly attacked election integrity efforts.
The same day that Cheboygan requested an audit, state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) proposed a bill to mandate a statewide election review, though it is unlikely that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) would sign the bill if passed. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey has said that he is “watching” the Arizona audit “carefully.”
Republican leaders in Nevada have called for a forensic audit, GOP chairman Michael McDonald saying that the state should “duplicate” Arizona’s process. “We intend to take and look at every legal option we have of bringing an audit here to Nevada,” he said in June.
The Republican Party of Nevada submitted around 4,000 accusations of election violations earlier this year, the Epoch Times reported. Nevada’s Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske (R), nevertheless has said that a probe by her office that has been criticized by fellow Republicans turned up no “evidentiary support” to support allegations of “widespread voter fraud.”
“I think at best they investigated three or four percent of the complaints we turned in. So at that point I knew we had to basically find a way to maneuver this,” McDonald said. McDonald and Republican officials from several states, like Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia, have toured the Maricopa audit.