By Beth Brelje
In anticipation of President Joe Biden’s Tuesday visit to Philadelphia to discuss voter rights, Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano, a Republican, sent a letter requesting a meeting with Biden to discuss a full audit of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election.
“Millions of Pennsylvanians have serious doubts about the accuracy of the 2020 general election,” Mastriano said in the letter to Biden. “A January poll from Muhlenberg University showed that 40% of Pennsylvania voters are not confident that the results of the 2020 election accurately reflected how Pennsylvanians voted.”
Biden’s speech is planned to be held at the National Constitution Center. Mastriano was asked via email, phone calls, and social media if Biden or his administration responded to his letter, but Mastriano did not respond.
An audit is a way to address everyone’s concerns, the letter says.
“Those who have concerns about the integrity of the election will have those concerns investigated and hopefully addressed,” the letter said. “Those who think that there was zero voter fraud, no irregularities, and that the elections were conducted perfectly will have the chance to be vindicated.”
Mastriano formally invited Biden to meet and indicates Biden’s support in this matter would be meaningful to voters.
“We need to come together,” the letter said. “A transparent forensic audit investigation of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania will go a long way to restore trust in our system.”
Biden’s visit comes less than a week after Mastriano, chair of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, sent letters to election officials in three Pennsylvania counties, Philadelphia, York, and Tioga, requesting a long list of items and information to be used as evidence in a forensic analysis of the 2020 election.
Since the committee’s intention to investigate the election was announced, Democrats at every level of state government have lashed out in opposition using a new catchphrase: “the Big Lie.”
“While some Republicans may be scoring victories with the Big Lie in other states, let me assure you—they’re not winning here in Pennsylvania,” tweeted Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro Tuesday.
Shapiro is likely to run for governor, having said in news reports he expects to be a candidate. Mastriano is also a possible candidate, although neither has made an official announcement.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s communication team posted comments about an audit several times this week on Wolf’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, calling the Republican efforts “attempts to disrupt Pennsylvania’s elections” by “compromising voting systems with a counting scheme” and “bypassing the legislative process with a reckless constitutional amendment.”
In another post on Wolf’s social media, Mastriano is called out for being present at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Six months after he was at the U.S. Capitol insurrection, one of our lawmakers is attempting to launch a sham election audit in PA. This is a disgrace to democracy—not to mention a profound waste of time and taxpayer money. I won’t stand for it,” Wolf’s Facebook post said.
Pennsylvania Department of State Acting Secretary Veronica Degraffenreid has warned county boards of elections not to provide access to examine their voting systems.
If counties do allow access, the voting equipment will be no longer be considered secure for future elections, she said in a statement. The equipment would be decertified and counties would be forced to buy new equipment.
Mastriano responded in a statement Monday, calling the Department of State’s reaction a “threat.”
“The authority of such a directive from the ‘acting’ secretary is … in question as she has yet to go before the Senate to be officially confirmed,” Mastriano said. “The inclination of the acting secretary to act outside the scope of her constitutional powers is deeply concerning and will certainly be considered during her confirmation process.”
The Intergovernmental Operations Committee has given counties until July 31 to define how they will comply with the request, including a timeline for providing the election equipment.