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Election hearings begin in what Pa. GOP leaders call a 'forensic audit'

The Pennsylvania State Senate began a series of hearings that GOP leaders called a “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania State Senate Republicans began a series of hearings that Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) called a “forensic investigation” into the 2020 Presidential Election.

“This audit is intended to go much further than previous reviews mandated by state law, which have focused on whether the reported counts are “accurate,’” Corman wrote in a statement.

Corman indicated the Senate would use its subpoena powers to request documents.

The Senate State Government Committee held a hearing Aug. 24 on Pennsylvania’s risk-limiting audit pilot program, in place since 2019.

Following the 2020 election, each Pennsylvania performed its own audit before certifying election results. In addition, 64 of 67 counties participated in the risk-limiting audit, in which they send thousands of ballots to the state Department of State.

Risk-limiting audits are considered the gold standard for confirming election results, and are used in many states.

“The 2020 election was one of the most scrutinized in our history,” Pa. Acting Secretary of State said at the hearing.

Some legislators still question the integrity of the 2020 election, with several citing concerned constituents.

“Thousands and thousands of constituents have been calling for months with questions about the 2020 election,” said State Sen. Dave Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), who is chair of the Senate State Government Committee.

“That’s the only way we’re going to get people’s confidence back up, is addressing their concerns,” said State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin).

The audit effort has caused some feuding among leadership. Mastriano had previously led the audit effort but was suddenly replaced last week after he appeared on One America News Network Friday and accused Corman of scuttling the investigation.

Corman responded by replacing Mastriano with State Sen. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson).

“It is discouraging to realize that [Mastriano] was only ever interested in politics and showmanship and not actually getting things done,” Corman wrote in a statement.

Senate Democrats universally oppose the audit, as well as several Republicans.

“Unless there is a coup, which is not going to happen in the United States, the 2020 election is over,” State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) said in a statement.

The potential investigation comes as Arizona is soon expected to release the results of its partisan audit. Dush and Mastriano both traveled to Phoenix in June to observe the audit.

Ongoing national rhetoric surrounding the election could play a role in legislators’ stances, as being perceived as accepting the 2020 election results could encourage primary election challenges.

Corman is facing reelection in 2022, while Mastriano is expected to run for governor in 2022 as Gov. Tom Wolf’s term expires.

“There are one or two state senators who I think genuinely want to persist in this, but I think most of them are just acquiescing to a lot of pressure from national right-wing groups,” said Senate Minority Leader Sharif Street (D-Phila.).

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