Pennsylvania House Speaker Seeks Full Audit of Election Returns Before Certification

November 7, 2020 Updated: November 8, 2020

The speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is calling for a full audit of election returns before the state certifies its results, citing “issues which cannot be overlooked.”

House Speaker Bryan Cutler, a Republican, in a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, referred to instructions from Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to county election officials not to reject mail ballots because of signature comparisons or third-party challenges based on such comparisons.

“This, of course, is a significant departure from Pennsylvania law and practice, and it eliminated one of the most important security and anti-fraud features used with absentee and mail-in ballots,” he wrote.

“It also treats voters who vote on Election Day in person different from those that used the absentee ballot of mail-in program.”

Boockvar later issued more guidance to counties, telling officials to count the ballots but keep the totals separate from the regular ballot count.

“Very serious equal protection rights issues now exist due to the disparate treatment of voters from different counties,” Cutler wrote.

Epoch Times Photo
The crowd outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, on Nov. 6, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said Nov. 6 he didn’t know of the more recent guidance, prompting him to order state officials to separate late-arriving ballots as a legal battle plays out regarding whether to count them.

Spokespersons for Boockvar and Wolf didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.

According to a lawsuit filed this week against Boockvar, some Pennsylvania counties refused to accept her guidance “because it is contravention of the Election Code.”

Other state lawmakers also have called for a full audit.

“I have serious concerns and fully concur with Speaker Cutler: AUDIT THE VOTE! No certification until a successful audit is completed,” state Rep. Russ Diamond, a Republican, said Nov. 6.

State officials conducted audits of both the Democratic and Republican presidential primary races earlier this year.

Counties conducted the audit using a statistical sample of 400 ballots cast in the June 2 primary that were randomly selected from across the state, Boockvar’s office stated. Based on the results of that random sampling, the chance that the audit gave a false-positive result is less than 0.1 percent.

Boockvar has said she’s planning another partial audit, described as a statewide risk-limiting audit, after all the ballots are counted.

Republican state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, meanwhile, said Boockvar’s guidance regarding mailed ballots is an example of state officials implementing rules that favored Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

Epoch Times Photo
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in an undated photograph. (Pennsylvania Department of State)

“If there are requests for a recount, they will have to go through that process,” he said during a Nov. 6 appearance on Fox News. “This is the unfortunate part about what Secretary Boockvar has done—and by extension, Governor Tom Wolf—by changing a lot of the rules over how this is done, and doing everything they could to tip the scales in favor of Joe Biden.”

Biden eclipsed President Donald Trump’s vote count in Pennsylvania on Nov. 6 and has maintained a lead since, as ballot counting continues.

Boockvar told reporters on Nov. 5 that the number of late-arriving ballots that had arrived “are a tiny fraction of what came in after the primary,” which was 60,000.

“You get the most ballots, you know, the day after Election Day, and then it dwindles from there. So I think it I don’t expect it to be a significant amount,” she added.

Wolf said during a separate briefing on Nov. 4: “I’m going to fight … to protect the vote of every Pennsylvanian. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that every vote counts.”

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