Second Pennsylvania County Raises Objections to Senator’s Election Investigation

July 19, 2021 Updated: July 20, 2021

Officials in a Pennsylvania county say a state senator may not have the legal power to compel it to provide election-related materials such as forensic images of ballot tabulators and voter information.

Commissioners in York County, in a recent letter obtained by The Epoch Times, told Pennsylvania Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, that the panel he chairs, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee may lack jurisdiction of elections oversight.

Mastriano triggered a forensic investigation of the 2020 election in York, Tioga, and Philadelphia counties on July 7, requesting reams of information from county officials.

He said he had the authority as chairman of the panel.

York County Commissioners Julie Wheeler, Doug Hoke, and Ron Smith, two Republicans and a Democrat, said the state Senate’s State Government Committee typically oversees elections.

“As a result, we believe that there may be a lack of jurisdiction over this issue which should be addressed and determined internally between the Committees and the legislature that created these Committees,” they wrote.

Pennsylvania Sen. Dave Argall, a Republican who chairs the government panel, told The Epoch Times last month that he supports an audit of the 2020 election. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican, has said the legislature has clear authority to conduct election oversight.

A spokesman for Argall told The Epoch Times via email that “it makes perfect sense for the Intergovernmental Operations Committee to take the lead on this investigation because of the intergovernmental aspects of the 2020 Election among the 67 counties, the Department of State, and other executive agencies involved in elections.”

A spokesman for Mastriano did not return a request for comment.

Commissioners also expressed concern with outside parties potentially gaining access to voting systems if a forensic probe does occur, pointing to a recent directive by the Pennsylvania Department of State that warned counties against providing such access. And they included questions about funding, wondering which body would be expected to pay for a probe.

But they left open complying with the requests if subpoenas were issued.

“Should the Committee decide to subpoena such an analysis and provide comprehensive answers to all the above issues, we could more properly consider such request,” they said.

Election workers count ballots
Election workers count ballots in Philadelphia, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party cheered the letter, writing on Twitter that “even @SenMastriano’s Republican-run home county is telling him to take a hike.”

“Sen. Mastriano’s committee doesn’t have appropriate jurisdiction, and the cost to taxpayers will be in the millions,” added state Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, a Democrat.

Mastriano has not yet responded to the letter, a spokesperson for York County told The Epoch Times in an email.

Tioga County officials previously said they would not allow access to its voting machines, citing the directive.

Mastriano requested that counties send a proposed timeline by July 31 regarding inspection, testing, or sampling of election-related items.

The senator told The Epoch Times earlier in July that he would convene his panel to vote on giving him subpoena power if counties did not comply with the requests. Noting that multiple judges sided with the Arizona Senate on jurisdiction and subpoena matters for the audit happening there, he said he expected to be successful if any of the counties pursued litigation in the courts.

“After the time period expires, which I’ve given three weeks to comply or to express [their] desire to comply, then it will be followed by committee vote. My committee will vote on authorizing me with a simple majority to issue subpoenas,” he said.

“I know it’s going be painted by the other side as some kind of awful thing, but it really is just reviewing, for transparency sake, what happened [in] the last election, and let the chips fall where they may. If there’s nothing to hide, this will exonerate everything they’ve been saying over the past eight months; Biden won, and nothing to see here. But I tend to think there’s going to be issues.”

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