An attempt to scrutinize Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results appears to have hit a wall, while similar efforts elsewhere have lost support and raised concerns.
Last week, Senator Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, attacked state officials decertifying voting machines in tiny Fulton County – a county where Mastriano’s allies had held a hoped-for election test.
State Department officials warned counties working with unaudited freelance auditors could result in decertification of their voting machines, forcing financially weak county governments to buy expensive new equipment.
“All we have to do is open the books, and if you fear transparency, you are part of the problem.” said Mastriano at the Fulton County courthouse.
Mastriano has fought publicly to scrutinize the results since former President Donald Trump urged his supporters to reveal evidence of alleged fraud. While few elected Republicans in the state have openly said they believe the fraud allegations – for which no evidence has been found – many have cited voter concerns about electoral integrity broadly.
Mastriano was assisted last week by Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, both representing Fulton County, Harrisburg. Ward condemned the state “strong arm” Tactics for the decertification of the Fulton machines.
“This aggressive move is just another example of why we need meaningful electoral reform” she said last week.
Senior Republican lawmakers joined the criticism of the State Department despite no longer approving the audit program itself.
The Fulton County fiasco shook Mastriano’s audit schedule. No other county has publicly expressed interest in collaborating and at least two have declined.
On Thursday, Mastriano and Ward’s colleague Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, completely opposed the plan, arguing in a comment that it was one “paranoid” The atmosphere.
“What message will people take from someone who tries to break into voting machines and rifle through ballot papers already counted while using statistical tricks to argue that the 2020 election was a fraud?” Laughlin wrote.
Despite the setbacks, Mastriano has not suggested scaling back or changing the plan.
The first 2020 election test in Arizona’s most populous county is still pending. The Arizona search, conducted by some of the same contractors involved in the Fulton County affair, has been overshadowed by internal fighting and public resignations.
This week the GOP liaison officer for the exam announced his retirement plans and said he will not a “Rubber stamp” for the process. GOP lawmakers in Arizona criticized the “botched” process there.
Nevertheless, some representatives in other states seem anxious to repeat the effort. This week a lawmaker in Wisconsin promised a “Comprehensive, forensic investigation” in the 2020 results.
Senators split on infrastructure vote
The Pennsylvania senators were divided on an important vote for a bipartisan infrastructure deal that would cover year-long federal projects.
The Senate voted 67 to 32 in an important procedural vote for the bill, which included several steps before it was finally passed on Thursday. The $ 1.2 trillion bill came after weeks of negotiations between Senate leaders.
Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., Supported the motion, while Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Like many of his Republican colleagues, opposed it. The bill would spend billions on transportation projects, road construction and electrical infrastructure.
In addition to the bipartisan bill, Senate Democrats are working on a much larger bill that would fund a wide range of programs backed by President Joe Biden. This bill, which has no Republican support, is facing a difficult path from a handful of skeptical Democrats.
PA reps join the rollback of the cigar rule
Several Pennsylvania Congressmen are joining a little-discussed effort to draft special Food and Drug Administration exemptions for hand-rolled cigars.
Representative Guy Reschenthaler, R-14. District; Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-15. District; Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, and Rep. Dan Meuser, R-9th District, signed this month as co-sponsors of HR 3982, which would exempt certain types of cigars from tobacco regulations.
While other co-sponsors are from expected states – including Florida, Virginia, and Kentucky – Pennsylvania’s GOP officials have long pushed for the exception. Several prominent cigar dealers have their headquarters in the state.
The nine representatives of the state’s GOP House of Representatives signed a letter to then-President Trump last year urging him to repeal the regulations. Premium cigars need not come under rules to combat underage consumption, lawmakers argued, as they are only marketed to adults who consume them in moderation.
“Pennsylvania’s premium cigar industry has a rich history and the state is home to the entire supply chain for the industry.” They write, “Including small business retail stores, tobacco growers, and numerous mail order companies that employ thousands of Pennsylvania.”
Ryan Brown covers the statewide policy for Ogden Newspapers, the owner of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.
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