‘Audit the Vote’ Group Demands Review of Washington County Elections | Local News
Numerous people convened Washington County commissioners on Thursday to demand that officials conduct a “forensic audit” on the county’s voting machines as part of an online group’s efforts to overthrow the presidential election. 2020.
Many spectators were enticed to attend by the group “Audit the Vote PA” which wants a large-scale recount statewide after repeatedly claiming that there had been widespread fraud which led to the President Joe Biden’s election victory in Pennsylvania last November.
Ahead of the meeting’s public comment period, Commission Chair Diana Irey Vaughan addressed the audience, letting them know that the county established an Election Review Committee early last year to review the policies and procedures “to restore voter confidence”. While Irey Vaughan has said she would be in favor of a forensic audit if this committee ultimately recommends doing so, she expressed concerns over the handing over of voting machines and equipment to the county to a third party, which would result in the decertification of the equipment.
“The ramifications and damage the county will suffer will be significant if such a full forensic audit occurs,” said Irey Vaughan.
She added that the county is expected to spend around $ 3 million to buy new voting machines if they are decertified by the state, and there is no guarantee that the new ones will be in place until this year’s general election on November 2. Irey Vaughan also touted changes the county has made in recent years, including removing 9,000 inactive voters from the lists, while having only one drop box for mail and mail ballots that has been placed inside the election office to allow better supervision.
Meanwhile, Irey Vaughan said his office received around 40 complaints of “questionable” votes, but found only two situations that warranted being referred to District Attorney Gene Vittone’s office, Irey Vaughan said. This involved a person who claimed to have voted multiple times while not registered in the county, and another person who was invited to vote using a provisional ballot because someone had apparently requested a postal vote on his behalf and the signature did not match his. Irey Vaughan said they had not heard an update from the district attorney if an investigation had been conducted or if it was completed.
But those comments did not seem to satisfy meeting attendees, including 11 county residents or business owners who spoke at the lectern.
Paul Peternel of Cokeburg said he “fully supports” an independent forensic audit to examine the machines. In doing so, he asked the commissioners not to comply with the State Department’s recent directive to 67 counties not to hand over their voting equipment to a third party, otherwise they would be decertified and could not be used in future. elections.
“The problem is the integrity of the elections and the confidence of the people in the future electoral process in our country,” said Peternel.
County election officials have previously said the reason the machines should be decertified is because they have left the county’s “chain of custody” and could be tampered with by a third party during the audit.
“Decertification, you know, of voting machines is a matter of the state,” Irey Vaughan said. “We have no authority over it.
Many in the audience suggested Thursday that the county should decommission electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots that would apparently be counted by hand. The new ES&S machines were purchased for $ 2.8 million in 2019 and designed to retain paper receipts that are stored after elections in the event of a recount. The county has been using electronic voting equipment since 2006, when authorities spent $ 1.8 million to purchase Diebold touchscreen machines to replace the punch card system in use since the 1980s.
Ashley Duff of Monongahela acknowledged that the county had made “positive steps” in the conduct of the election, but said she did not trust the voting machines.
“We still have a lot of work to do to give voters concrete assurance that their votes will be counted accurately,” Duff said while questioning the accuracy of the voting machines. “We need to take the bull by the horns and address these concerns head-on, with a transparent and forward-looking approach.”
Duff said she and many others in the county supported a full audit of voting machines “no matter the cost.”
“There is no other path that will suffice,” said Duff.
Commissioner Nick Sherman noted that Washington County had taken “proactive steps” to ensure there was no voter fraud, but added that he believed there had been fraud. in other parts of the state.
“We were buttoned up here in Washington County,” Sherman said. “I appreciate that everyone came here. I believe in verification. We have to go to Allegheny County. We have to go to Philadelphia County, where the real fraud took place. “
Former President Donald Trump overwhelmingly won Washington County, but Biden garnered a large number of votes in the urban and suburban areas around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, helping him win over Pennsylvania. There has been no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the state.
“Audit the Vote” recently sent a message to its subscribers with the contact details of the commissioners, as well as the time and place of Thursday morning’s meeting. Commissioners said they had received around 600 emails and more than 200 phone messages in recent days from people demanding a forensic audit. Irey Vaughan said she will review their requests and respond to each of them as time permits.
“But I promise you that I will tell my colleagues and the Election Review Committee about it, because voter confidence and the integrity of the electoral process should be paramount,” said Irey Vaughan. “And I agree with you.”