Directive comes after state senator initiated forensic investigation into 2020, 2021 elections
The Pennsylvania agency in charge of elections has issued a new directive telling counties not to let outside parties access electronic voting systems or components of such systems, such as tabulators and ballot printers.
The directive from the Pennsylvania Department of State, released on July 9, says that county boards of elections “shall not” provide any access to third parties that are seeking to examine the systems or system components.
If the counties do allow access, the voting equipment that is examined “will be considered no longer secure or reliable to use in subsequent elections” and the department will withdraw its certification for the equipment.
“Such access by third parties undermines chain of custody requirements and strict access limitations necessary to prevent both intentional and inadvertent tampering with electronic voting systems,” said acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid, appointed in February by Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, in a statement. “It also jeopardizes the security and integrity of the systems and will prevent electronic voting system vendors from affirming that the systems continue to meet Commonwealth security standards and U.S. Election Assistance Commission certification.”
Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican, said in a response that the directive “is an attack on the General Assembly’s power to review, investigate, and legislate in matters within its legislative authority, which includes Pennsylvania’s election system.”
“The Legislature has clear authority—both statutorily and constitutionally—to provide oversight and issue subpoenas. This directive tramples those rights which were specifically put in place to prevent potential abuses and overreach by the Executive Branch,” he added.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, added that the directive was an example of a “disturbing pattern” of obstruction and violation of constitutional powers of the Senate by the Wolf administration that dates back to March 2019.
Wolf and other Pennsylvania Executive Branch officials have condemned the push by some state Republicans for an audit, saying the 2020 election ran smoothly with virtually no problems. Mastriano triggered a probe of recent elections last week, sending letters to Philadelphia, York, and Tioga counties.