Election officials in multiple Republican-leaning states and counties that voted for former President Donald Trump resisted calls by state legislators to undertake election audits akin to the one now playing out in Arizona.
Election officials in Pennsylvania’s Republican-leaning Tioga and York counties shot down requests by GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano to turn over election materials including ballots and voting machines, part of an effort to conduct a so-called forensic investigation of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results.
The predominantly Republican commissioners in the two counties cited recent guidance from Pennsylvania’s secretary of state that directed counties not to comply with Mastriano’s request, saying their voting machines will be decertified if they turn them over and the state will not reimburse their replacement.
North Carolina’s State Board of Elections rejected a call Thursday from the state’s House Freedom Caucus to “access randomly selected voting systems” in the state to inspect them for potential security issues.
The board’s executive director Karen Brinson Bell defended the state’s elections and the safeguards in place to prevent fraud in a letter to lawmakers, quoting federal officials who said allowing access to voting machines “increases the risk of accidental or intentional damage, manipulation, or theft of assets.”
Oklahoma’s elections board rebuffed a request from Republican state Rep. Sean Roberts to audit the state’s elections, which he claimed was necessary based on allegations of election fraud in other states.
Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Tuesday such a review was likely not permissible under state law, and said “the time and expense of a post-election audit is not justified for an election that was conducted more than eight months ago.”
“The State Board has received no credible evidence that the certified results are not accurate, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle have stated that the 2020 general election in North Carolina was conducted fairly,” Brinson Bell wrote in her letter to North Carolina Republicans striking down their request. “We will not allow misinformation about voting systems or any other aspect of elections to dictate our priorities in administering elections.”
$2.8 million. That’s how much Maricopa County, Arizona, will spend to replace its voting machines after they were turned over to private companies for their election audit, suggesting the hefty price tag that would come with complying with Republicans’ election investigation requests. Philadelphia county commissioner Al Schmidt told Reuters the county—which also received a request from Mastriano for election materials—would likely have to pay approximately $40 million in total to replace their election equipment, and Tioga County projected to the outlet their costs would be “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
What To Watch For
The Pennsylvania counties’ refusal to comply with Mastriano’s request sets up a likely showdown, as Mastriano said he will try to have the Pennsylvania Senate committee he chairs approve subpoenas for the materials if the counties don’t voluntarily turn them over by July 31. Democratic state lawmakers and leadership have suggested they plan to fight those subpoenas in court. North Carolina Republicans have also suggested they plan to push back against Brinson Bell’s rejection of their request—potentially through legal action—and Roberts in Oklahoma has suggested he will introduce legislation that would impose a “more comprehensive audit process” in the state, the Oklahoman reports.
The push for election audits comes after Trump alleged widespread fraud during the presidential election, a claim which he and his allies have failed to produce any evidence to support. Government-run audits have repeatedly affirmed states’ election results, and critics warn partisan and privately run audits like the one under way in Arizona could undermine public confidence in elections even if there’s no likelihood they would actually affect the results. The Justice Department has also warned the Arizona audit—which has raised numerous concerns over issues like a lack of transparency and privacy—could run afoul of federal law by taking election materials out of election officials’ control. Despite these concerns, Republican state lawmakers have been pushing for their own probes across the country.
Another county raises objection to lawmaker’s election audit (Associated Press)
House Freedom Caucus stymied in voting machine probe (Carolina Journal)