PA Battle of Authority Continues Over Forensic Investigation

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

The request for forensic materials has started a battle of authority between the Intergovernmental Operations Committee (IOC), the Counties, and the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS). In early July, UncoverDC reported Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano and the IOC requested information and materials from Philadelphia, York, and Tioga counties to conduct a forensic investigation.

The July 7 letter sent to Philadelphia County is now available in the public domain and includes an Exhibit A that reveals what information and materials really mean. Here is a list of just some of the materials requested from the counties by the IOC in Exhibit A:

  • A complete end-to-end election setup for use in a laboratory that includes all the equipment necessary to simulate an election and recreate the precise scenarios of election day in 2020.
  • Voter rolls, registration information of voters who voted, including daily and cumulative voter records.
  • All ballot production, processing, and tabulation equipment.
  • Paper samples from all ballot paper that was used.
  • All ballots cast or attempted to [be] cast during the 2020 General.
  • Envelopes, request forms, reports on rejected ballots, training materials, poll books, instruction manuals.
  • Election settings logs and reports, configuration files, usernames, and passwords.
  • All software and bootable media, hardware tokens (security keys) and the election management system that was used.
  • Forensic images of all servers, tabulators, ballot marking devices, desktops and laptops, removable media and hard drives, routers or other network equipment, and SIM cards.
  • Forensics on all machines used to process absentee ballots.
  • Logs from all routers, switches, firewalls, IDS, IPS or similar devices.
  • EMS Server(s), EMS Clients, tabulators, ballot marking devices, ballot on-demand printers, scanners, voting systems.
  • IP address used by modems, routers, and computers.
  • A timeline of all individuals who had access to voting equipment and any tests that were performed.
  • Contracts and agreements between the county and the state and between the county and voting equipment vendors or contractors.
  • Details of all activities related to the Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), including but not limited to equipment, drop boxes, and a list of resources that CTCL had access to.

Secretary of State Veronica W. Degraffenreid of the DOS issued her first and only directive of the year thus far, the very next day after Mastriano's July 7 letter was sent. It directed that counties "shall not provide physical, electronic, or internal access" to voting systems by "third parties seeking to copy and/or conduct an examination." It warns that such access would result in a withdrawal of certification for the use of the equipment in future elections and that the state would not provide reimbursement for the replacement cost. It further demands that the County Boards of Elections notify the Secretary of State "upon receipt of any written or verbal request for third-party access to an electronic voting system, or any component thereof."

On July 29, a formal response to Mastriano's request came from Tioga County solicitor Christopher P. Gabriel. The letter directly cited the Secretary of State's directive and said:

"We have a responsibility to ensure that our voters can vote in the Fall. If we give you access to our machines, the Secretary of State will decertify them as she did in Fulton County. We are thus unable to grant you access to our machines without any help from you or the Senate to replace them. We, therefore, decline your request at this time."

Tioga County's response letter refers to PA DOS's decertification of Fulton County's Dominion machines on July 21. A third-party technology company had been given access for an assessment which was said to have "undermined the chain of custody requirements and strict access limitations necessary to prevent both intentional and inadvertent tampering with electronic voting systems."

Solicitor Gabriel clarifies conditions needed for Tioga County to comply with the IOC request:

"We are therefore not refusing to cooperate with your effort to audit the machines as many have said. We have instead made clear through our Senator, Cris Dush, that we would cooperate in any such effort so long as you could provide us funds to have new machines in place in time for the Fall election."

Republican State Senator Dan Laughlin wrote an op-ed on July 29, in which he called the potential audit "attempts to discredit the 2020 election results" and noted that down-ballot Republicans won in the same election, which he says is an "unmistakable truth" that is "not a sign of a stolen election." Laughlin wrote, "Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump received fewer votes."

Philadelphia Commissioner Lisa Deeley sent a letter on July 30, similar to the one from Tioga County on behalf of the Philadelphia Board of Election of Philadelphia County. The letter stated the board "cannot agree to the undertaking of [Mastriano's] proposed review of the county's election equipment." It went on to say there is no basis and efforts have already been completed that would make this one duplicative. Deeley was referring to a risk-limiting audit previously conducted in the state and a report by the Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform, which Deeley says "confirmed the outcome" of elections in Philadelphia County.

Mastriano says the actions by the Secretary of State are attempts to "threaten and bully" the counties and says he will request that the IOC issue subpoenas to the counties. This protects them by making the compliance legally compelled, rather than voluntary and in breach of Degraffenreid's directive.

Pennsylvania activist Behizy contends that Title 18, Chapter 51, Subchapter A, Section 5110 of the Consolidated Statutes of Pennsylvania provide that a person that "neglects or refuses to appear after having been duly served with a subpoena" is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Mastriano was quoted on Tuesday as saying the battle may end up in court, and that he expects to win if the question is whether the IOC has authority to subpoena. He went on to say, however, "If the challenge becomes something else, obviously that will drag out in court. So a judge, in the end, will have to decide any debates that we have between the counties and myself.” He has asserted authority for the IOC's request by virtue of its "oversight and investigatory responsibilities" related to activities that involve multiple Pennsylvania agencies. Below is Mastriano's response to the overreach by the Secretary of State from July 10.

In an interview with One America News on July 28, Mastriano said, "As long as I get six votes out of the 10 members, then I have the power [to issue subpoenas]. As soon as I get a quorum, we will have a meeting, we will vote on subpoenas, and let the fun begin."

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