HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Republican elected officials in a small rural Pennsylvania county on Friday urged state officials to reconsider the decision to require new voting machines after a software company was allowed to inspect equipment after elections.
Stuart Ulsh, chairman of the Fulton County Commissioners Council, argued that the machines had not been tampered with or compromised and therefore should be safe for use in November.
“Fulton County taxpayers do not deserve to be accused of what appears to be a partisan State Department attack on a local Republican government,” Ulsh said at a press conference outside the courthouse. McConnellsburg County.
Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid canceled machinery certification after Fulton County revealed it had accepted requests from local Republican lawmakers to allow the unofficial election audit, described by Ulsh as “a post-election analysis.”
Degraffenreid’s agency released a statement Friday evening that it “took the only safe action” and that had Fulton County officials contacted the state agency in advance, they would have been warned “of the serious risk “of decertification.
Fulton officials have failed to meet their obligation to maintain chain of custody control over all voting hardware and equipment, and cybersecurity consultants say there is no way to ensure that there was no tampering, the State Department said.
“By allowing a third party virtually unlimited access to the equipment during an informal review, they have created a situation in which neither the county, nor the voting system provider, nor the State Department can argue with certainty that the system has not been compromised, âthe statement said.
Representative Jesse Topper, R-Fulton, said on Friday that he hopes Degraffenreid will reconsider and allow county officials to argue that the voting machines can be used again. He called the decertification of machines unnecessary and expensive.
âThe County Commissioners here in Fulton County undertook what they felt was best for this region, for their county, because they could see what they needed to do in the upcoming election to continue the great work that ‘they did, “Topper said.
Topper said county officials were unaware that the State Department had a list of certified vendors to test voting machines, and that the department should have made this information known to counties. The software company that performed the assessment was not one of those vendors.
Senator Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, said Degraffenreid and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf are acting to stop Fulton and other counties from pursuing the kind of audit he wants.
Mastriano has been a major supporter of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to reverse his electoral defeat, and both praised the ongoing audit in Arizona and visited the project site. Mastriano, who has generally avoided speaking with reporters outside of conservative media, did not answer questions.
âA governor and his acting secretary of state are trying to threaten and intimidate your county and other counties,â Mastriano said at the press conference. âI don’t know how an honest American can handle this. This is the tactic of intimidation of thugs in distant lands.
Edward Perez, global director of technology development at the California-based OSET Institute, which focuses on electoral infrastructure and administration research, said it was not normal to hand over election materials to ” inexperienced third-party auditors unfamiliar with election administration practices or voting system technology.
County officials maintained that they had done nothing wrong.
In a joint statement, Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Jake Corman, R-Center, and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said Degraffenreid’s action was “antagonistic” and serves to erode voting rights and undermining the role of counties in elections.
Lawmakers’ audit request came amid Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged against him in Pennsylvania and other battlefield states.
Degraffenreid, a person named by Wolf’s, informed Fulton County officials in a letter Tuesday that the inspection violated state law. This was done in a way that “was neither transparent nor bipartisan” and by a company that had “no knowledge or expertise in electoral technology,” Degraffenreid wrote.
The US Election Assistance Commission accredits laboratories to test voting machines. Pennsylvania law requires that voting machine tests be performed by a federally accredited laboratory.