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Mastriano says his plan to issue election subpoenas 'stopped'

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Election 2020-Pennsylvania Audit

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, says "the powers that be" have thwarted his effort to have an Arizona-style examination of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

More than a half year after the election, Republican lawmakers are passing new restrictions requiring identification to vote by mail. Voters in Florida and Georgia who want to vote absentee ballots in next year's governors races now must first provide identification to receive a ballot. Only two states had such a law in the books in 2020. New legislation requiring additional identification for mailed ballots has been introduced in 10 states. Critics say the measures may disproportionately bar votes from low-income, minority and college-age voters who are more likely to lack valid identification or an ID with a current address.Republicans pushed for the new restrictions, fanning concerns over election integrity by embracing former President Trump's false claims of voter fraud in last year's election. Those claims have been rejected by more than 50 state and federal courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court.And though all 50 states also certified election results, Republicans have also called for election audits in multiple hotly contested states, alleging fraud. On Friday, a state judge in Georgia ruled that 142,000 mail ballots could be unsealed for inspection in Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta. Another heated ballot review continues in Arizona, where some Republican officials in Maricopa County say a private GOP audit is causing a split in the party. "There's this bloodthirstiness that's going on in our party right now that I don't understand, but we have to stop it," Bill Gates, Vice Chair of Maricopa Board of Supervisors said. "This is tearing at the foundations of democracy to act in this way to treat one another this way."President Joe Biden won narrow victories in both Georgia and Arizona - with official ballot recounts upholding his wins.One independent voter in Arizona said Republicans insistence on an audit - long after the fact - could stir a backlash against them.  "Well, I think, it's going help the Democrats. We think it's crazy. I mean, now how can people still be questioning this election. you can't fix stupid, I guess."

HARRISBURG — A backer of former President Donald Trump’s effort to carry out an Arizona-style “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election suggested Thursday that fellow Republicans in the state Senate are blocking his efforts.

In a video posted Thursday on Facebook, state Sen. Doug Mastriano did not name names, but blamed “the powers that be” for preventing him from holding a meeting of the committee he chairs to vote on issuing subpoenas to counties.

Mastriano also said he has “been stopped for the time being.” Mastriano did not say how he was stopped, later deleted the video and did not respond to requests to clarify his comments.

Mastriano, R-Franklin, has helped spread Trump’s baseless falsehoods that the election was rigged against him and has claimed that Trump “asked me“ to run for governor.

Pa. county asks Mastriano to stop seeking vote audit

Democrat Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, and courts have repeatedly thrown out Republican claims about election fraud or illegalities.

In any case, critics say an election audit is duplicative, given the required audits already carried out by counties and the state, and that the review envisioned by Mastriano does not resemble any sort of audit that is accepted by the election-administration community.

Under Senate rules, Mastriano needs a majority of his committee to be present to hold a meeting.

Senate Republican leaders have been largely silent about whether they support Mastriano’s efforts. It has sowed discord in the Republican caucus, with one publicly blasting it, saying it is only favored by “a handful of my colleagues.”

GOP senator hopes to issue election subpoenas within 2 weeks

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said Thursday that Mastriano “has the authority to carry out his duties, including asking the committee to issue subpoenas under the rules of the Senate of Pennsylvania.”

Democrats oppose it, and Gov. Tom Wolf and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, both Democrats, have suggested that they will challenge any subpoena in court.

Democrats accuse Mastriano of trying to orchestrate a “sham audit,” saying he is seeking to undermine the legitimacy of Biden’s victory in a bid for Trump’s endorsement to run for governor.

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia, said Mastriano does not have enough votes from Republican senators to issue subpoenas, even though Republicans won’t come out and say it because they fear Trump.

“No one is rushing on their side to declare Donald Trump irrelevant, but there are a bunch of them that don’t necessarily agree with what Donald Trump says or does and until it’s clear that he’s weaker, I don’t think you’ll see a rush to jump in front of that train,” Williams said. “They don’t support this, and therefore they’re trying to manage it.”

Experts raise alarms over fundraising for GOP ballot reviews, including in Pa.

At an “Audit the Vote PA” rally on Monday, Mastriano appeared to suggest that he knows he doesn’t have the votes on his committee to issue subpoenas.

“It’s a long fight and so please let your state senator know in Pennsylvania what you want to happen. Do you want a forensic investigation?” he asked the crowd.

The Senate committee that typically handles election issues, the State Government Committee, is holding a hearing next week on the state’s auditing practices.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, has thus far declined entreaties from Trump supporters to issue subpoenas, as Senate Republicans in Arizona did.

Leaders of the Audit the Vote PA group have complained about Argall and the Senate’s ranking member, President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre.

In an interview on WWDB-AM in Philadelphia in June, one of them, Toni Shuppe, said Argall told them “there wasn’t enough evidence” of election fraud, and that they had heard Corman was “the road block.”

On July 7, Mastriano sent letters to Philadelphia and York and Tioga counties with a request for access to documents, information and equipment, giving them until July 31 to formulate a plan to comply, under threat of a subpoena.

All three effectively refused to cooperate.

Mastriano, meanwhile, has left key questions unanswered about the undertaking he envisions, such as who will do the work, how will it be funded and where such a vast amount of documents and equipment would be stored.

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