Key Pennsylvania senator endorses Arizona-style election audit

By Christen Smith | The Center Square, June 22, 2021

(The Center Square) – Sen. Dave Argall, R-Pottsville, said last week he thinks an audit of the 2020 election – similar to the effort undertaken in Arizona – isn’t a bad idea.

Argall, who chairs the Senate State Government Committee, told SpotlightPA on Friday he sees no “damage in doing it one more time to try to answer the concerns that people have.”

“Do I have 100% confidence … that everything was perfect? No, I’d really like us to take a detailed review of that,” he told the news outlet. “That’s why we’re looking at changing pieces of the election legislation and it’s also why I think it wouldn’t hurt at all to go back, do that audit, and say, ‘How exactly did that work out?’”

Argall made clear he accepts the outcome of the November election, even though many of his constituents don’t trust the results. His committee position, however, remains key for any potential election reform or review to move through the Senate.

He also has the distinction of being called out by name alongside Senate President Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, in a statement from former President Donald Trump demanding a forensic audit in Pennsylvania similar to Arizona’s review.

“The people of Pennsylvania and America deserve to know the truth,” Trump said. “If the Pennsylvania Senate leadership doesn’t act, there is no way they will ever get re-elected!”

Argall’s counterpart in the House – Rep. Seth Grove, R-York – said he’s uninterested in another audit. Gov. Tom Wolf called the Arizona effort a “sham” and said he’d condemn any behavior that “encourages the same dysfunction and chaos” in Pennsylvania.

“It is wrong to pass laws that take away someone’s freedom to vote for your own political gain,” he said. “Lies and disinformation about fair elections drove our nation to the brink of disaster on January 6, and now the same people who spread those lies, who encouraged the mob that attacked our nation’s leaders, are attacking the freedom to vote.” 

On June 2, three state GOP lawmakers traveled to Phoenix for a private tour of the facility where an audit team recounted more than 2.1 million ballots cast last year in Maricopa County. President Joe Biden clenched Arizona by roughly 10,000 votes last year – the first time a Democratic candidate carried the state since 1996. 

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, and Sens Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, and Doug Mastriano, R-Gettysburg, then met with Arizona lawmakers to discuss the audit results. Mastriano, a rumored candidate for governor when Wolf’s term expires in 2022, told the Wall Street Journal he’s uninterested in “overturning anything,” while Dush said he wants answers for his constituents who still don’t trust the final results.

Biden won Pennsylvania by fewer than 81,000 votes in November. The Trump campaign fired off a series of lawsuits alleging mail-in voter fraud that were later dismissed for lack of evidence. Several Republican lawmakers supported the effort, including Mastriano, Dush and Kauffman.

“Forty-seven percent of the people in this country don’t have faith in the electoral – electoral integrity right now,” Dush told The Wall Street Journal. “And my constituents are very much up in arms, with the lack of any movement on trying to find out what happened.”

Mastriano, who came under fire in recent months for organizing a bus trip for residents to participate in the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, said in an interview with the newspaper that “he’s not about overturning anything.”

“I’m just trying to find out what went right, what went wrong?,” he said. “And how do we have better elections in the future?”

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