WSKG – A planned inspection of a rural Pennsylvania county’s voting equipment from 2020 remains on hold, despite a recent state court decision.
South-central Fulton County, encouraged by state Senate Republicans, has been seeking a second inspection of Dominion voting machines that it used during the 2020 election. But the county has been mired in court challenges. At issue is whether Fulton can have its Dominion machines inspected, and whether the Department of State can stop an inspection from happening.
Supporters of the effort have not explained how such an inspection would be carried out and have not clearly explained why one is necessary more than a year and a half after the machines were used.
Former President Donald Trump, who won 85 percent of the vote there, continues to falsely assert that he lost to President Joe Biden because of systemic ballot fraud and procedural issues. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or machine tampering in Pennsylvania.
Fulton County’s latest examination was set to happen in January after Commonwealth Court sided with the county in a lawsuit – but the state Supreme Court halted it when the Department of State appealed the lower court’s decision. It’s been on pause ever since.
“I’m just a little frustrated with the Supreme Court for their delay,” said Sen. Cris Dush (R-Cameron), who leads the Senate committee that has spearheaded the latest inspection effort.
Wake Technology Services, an IT firm, looked at Fulton County’s now-decertified Dominion voting machines early last year and found no evidence of voter fraud. That examination led the Department of State to decertify those machines last summer. Then-Acting Secretary Veronica Degraffenreid wrote that the agency could not verify whether “the impacted components…[were] safe to use in future elections.”
Fulton County sued over that decision in Commonwealth Court, arguing in part that Degraffenreid should have allowed commissioners to appeal. The county has since maintained that Wake did not “disturb or manipulate” the machines during its examination. It argues the state owes the county’s taxpayers money back after it had to pay to lease new voting machines.
The Department of State asked the appeals court to toss out that lawsuit on technical grounds, but Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt rejected the Department’s legal reasoning late last month. The agency now has a chance to file a new objection. The case itself has not been decided.
Dush said Republican backers of the years-long inspection effort will not be deterred by court challenges.
“As soon as the court clears things up [about the voting inspection], we’re ready to rock and roll,” he said. “We’re going to have to get some funding, but my experts are ready to move.”
Dush explained those “experts” are employees of the data security firm Envoy Sage. Senate Republicans agreed to pay that company $270,000 of taxpayer money late last year. The no-bid contract paid for election investigation work that included an inspection of Fulton County’s voting machines. Envoy Sage has no experience with elections.