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Local lawmakers call for audit to ensure transparent election results

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot
Election day at Greencastle Church of the Brethren.

Local lawmakers joined colleagues from across the state Tuesday in supporting a bipartisan, legislative-led audit of the 2020 general election and said that the election results should not be certified until a final report from the audit is made public.

PA Sen. Judy Ward

“I have received a flood of calls, emails and messages from community residents who are deeply concerned about the fairness of our elections,” said state Sen. Judy Ward, a Republican whose district includes Franklin County.

“We must ensure the integrity of our election process. We must make certain that every legal vote is counted and recorded correctly. Democracy only works if it is transparent and secure.”

State Reps. Rob Kauffman and Paul Schemel, Franklin County Republicans, were among the members of the General Assembly who issued the following statement:

PA Rep. Paul Schemel

“Over the last several days stories coming from local and national media outlets as well as personal reports made to our offices reveal a multitude of claims surrounding the integrity of the recent elections in Pennsylvania.

"Irregularities and inconsistencies associated with the conduct of the elections together with accusations of barriers to the transparent tabulation of election results warrant a closer and more comprehensive examination than state agencies have thus far undertaken.

“In order to address the growing concerns relating to the recent election it is imperative that a standing committee within the General Assembly, one possessing the authority to subpoena evidence, be immediately charged with auditing the 2020 General Election.

"As the branch of government which is both the most politically diverse and the closest to the people, the General Assembly is uniquely constituted to conduct a review of this highly charged issue, one which would take place within the full view of the people of Pennsylvania.

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“The selection of the next president of the United States being of paramount importance to all Americans, it is imperative that the legislative audit of Pennsylvania’s election be conducted thoroughly but also expeditiously. Although time is of the essence, there remains adequate time to conduct the review and report the findings prior to the certification of the election results and the empanelment of Pennsylvania’s electors to the Electoral College. The integrity of our elections and the credibility of our next president deserve this review be undertaken with appropriate attention and speed.”

Gov. Tom Wolf's office issued a response on Tuesday:

"Pennsylvania had a free, fair, and secure election. Millions of Pennsylvanians followed the rules allowed by the SCOTUS and each voter, regardless of political party, must have their voice heard," the statement says. "Allegations of fraud and illegal activity have been repeatedly debunked and dismissed by the courts. Those attacks against the core values of Americans are intended to undermine our democracy, and we must reject them.

"Election officials at the state and local level, Republican and Democrat, worked tirelessly amid a pandemic so voters could decide this election. In Philadelphia, Allegheny County, and elsewhere, officials are administering the election with the highest degree of transparency. In Philadelphia and several other counties there has been a livestream of the ballot-counting process available for anyone to watch. In all counties all parties have canvass observers throughout the process. Any insinuation otherwise is a lie.

"Pennsylvania is going to fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters. We will protect this election and the democratic process. Pennsylvania will count every vote, and we will protect the count of every vote."

Last week, the state announced it planned to conduct a statewide risk-limiting audit, just as it did for the June 2 primary to confirm the outcome.

The purpose of the audit is "to strengthen election security and integrity, confirm the accuracy of election outcomes, and provide confidence to voters that their votes were counted accurately," the news release states.

Meanwhile, the counting of the ballots continues.

As of Tuesday morning, president-elect Joe Biden was ahead with 3,363,953. President Trump has received 3,318,103 votes.

Teresa Boeckel of the USA Today Network contributed to this story.