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New Front in GOP Election ‘Investigation’ Draws Challenges | Pennsylvania News

By MARC LEVY, Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and a voting-system producer try to forestall Republican lawmakers from increasing what they name a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election to a brand new entrance: inspecting voting machines.

It is one other step pushed by former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud.

Lawyers for Wolf’s prime election official, Veronica DeGraffenreid, requested a courtroom late Friday afternoon to cease a digital information change scheduled for subsequent Wednesday in southern Pennsylvania’s sparsely populated Fulton County.

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The election tools used in final yr’s presidential election in the closely Republican county has already been decertified by the state after Fulton County let a software program firm examine the tools. The agency — West Chester-based software program firm Wake TSI — was not federally accredited to examine voting machines, and it later performed a task in Republicans’ broadly discredited partisan “audit” in Arizona.

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Allowing a equally unaccredited and inexperienced contractor employed by Pennsylvania’s Senate Republicans to acquire digital information from the tools will spoil proof in Fulton County’s lawsuit difficult the state’s decertification, attorneys for DeGraffenreid wrote in a courtroom submitting.

On Dec. 10, the investigating committee chair, Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, despatched a letter requesting the “digital data” from the election computer systems and {hardware} used in the 2020 election by Fulton County.

Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems warned Fulton County that granting the Senate Republicans’ contractor entry to its tools to get the digital information violates their contract.

But Dominion — whose voting tools has been on the heart of among the most feverish conspiracy theories about final yr’s presidential election — stated Fulton County has a backup copy of the info that it might merely present with out granting entry to Dominion’s tools.

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However, a lawyer representing Fulton County, Tom King, stated in an interview Saturday that digital election information just isn’t solely what Dush desires.

Rather, Dush desires the Senate Republicans’ contractor, Envoy Sage, to conduct a “forensic investigation” to find out if Dominion’s tools used there was the identical tools as was licensed by the state of Pennsylvania to be used in final yr’s election, King stated.

“I think people simply want to know whether what was used in Fulton County was in fact the equipment that was certified for Dominion to supply in Pennsylvania or whether it wasn’t,” King said. “Whether it was or wasn’t is not clear to us at this point.”

King stated a county commissioner who spoke with Dush advised him that the thrust of the inquiry was in regards to the Dominion tools. Wake TSI’s inspection didn’t cowl that, King stated.

Voting techniques that cross anti-tampering checks are licensed by states. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission accredits labs to check voting machines and supplies steering to states on how one can keep a series of custody over voting techniques.

King stated granting the request is allowed underneath the contract and that he views Envoy Sage as “highly qualified” to do the work. Separately, King additionally stated that the train won’t have an effect on the courtroom case or the state’s rights in courtroom.

Court arguments had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Trump and his allies have utilized ongoing strain in these battleground states the place he misplaced to Democrat Joe Biden — together with in Pennsylvania — for his allies to research ballots, voting machines and voter rolls for proof to help their baseless claims about election fraud.

Dush — who has advocated for overturning Biden’s victory over Trump in Pennsylvania — didn’t say why he’s searching for the entry, or whether or not he’s searching for related entry in different counties.

He didn’t return a message about it.

Dush has insisted the endeavor has nothing to do with Trump or attempting to overturn final yr’s presidential election, however fairly is about fixing issues in the state’s elections.

In any case, analyzing voting machine information just isn’t particularly outlined in the Senate Republicans’ $270,000 contract with Envoy Sage, elevating the query of whether or not Trump-aligned teams are footing a part of the invoice, as they did in the Arizona endeavor.

Dush has stated he needed to deliver the Arizona-style election “audit” to Pennsylvania.

Unlike in Arizona, a subpoena authorized by Dush’s Republican-controlled state Senate committee to Pennsylvania election officers stopped in need of demanding ballots and voting machines, and different counties have rebuffed much less formal requests.

But in Fulton County, Dush has discovered a keen accomplice.

There, Trump gained greater than 85% of final yr’s vote, in accordance with official returns, and registered Republican voters outnumber Democrats by 7 to 2.

In post-election inside emails launched by way of public information requests, Fulton County’s two Republican commissioners expressed solidarity with Republican senators who later sought to dam Pennsylvania’s electoral votes from being solid for Biden. One wrote, “We can’t let this election get stolen.”

No prosecutor, decide or election board in Pennsylvania has raised a priority about widespread fraud in 2020’s election, and courts in any respect ranges have rejected claims about fraud, irregularities and violations.

Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timelywriter.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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