The state guidelines pose another problem for the GOP-sponsored effort to review the PA’s 2020 election

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HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) – The Justice Department has advised against Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams County) calling for an Arizona-style election investigation.

Mastriano and at least four other GOP state senators – Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill), Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), Chris Gebhard (R-Lebanon) and Judy Ward (R-Blair) – all have further investigation into the general election 2020 despite multiple legal challenges and local and state election officials who all came to the conclusion months ago that the competition was free and fair.

(AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar, File)

York, Tioga, and Philadelphia counties each received a letter from Mastriano in July asking their electoral boards to submit an extensive list of materials to the Senate Interstate Operations Committee. Mastriano heads this 10-person panel. The items on the list were similar to those summoned by the Arizona Senate in its own much-criticized review of the election last fall.

In a document outlining legal “restrictions” released late last week, the DOJ said that giving things like ballot papers or hard drives to anyone who is not an election officer could violate civil rights law.

“Where election papers leave the control of electoral officials, the systems used to maintain the security, integrity and chain of custody of those records can easily be broken,” the document reads.

“This risk is exacerbated if the election documents are passed on to private actors who have neither experience nor specialist knowledge in handling such records and who are not familiar with the obligations under federal law.”

Until last Friday, the Philadelphia County Commissioners voted to decline Mastriano’s request for materials. Tioga County also refused the question, while York County asked if the request would conflict with the State Department.Earlier this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted a review of 45,000 randomly selected ballot papers from the 2020 elections in what is known as a risk mitigation review. All 67 districts were also legally obliged to check a small part of their own ballot papers for errors. Both efforts confirmed that Joe Biden won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.

That agency said last month that counties would be forced to replace any voting machines that are turned over for third party electoral review. The three counties Mastriano selected have separately stated that this would cost them millions of dollars each.

“We estimate that replacing our electoral systems and equipment alone would cost over $ 35 million,” said Philadelphia Democratic Commissioner Omar Sabir. “That is not practical. We really just want to move forward. “

Sabir said he voted against participating in a new third party screening as it would involve sharing identifying information about individual voters such as names, addresses and dates of birth with people outside of the electoral process.

Justice Department guidelines indicated that disclosure of this type of information could create intimidation for voters and that investigators should ensure that disclosure of this information “does not have the purpose or effect of preventing qualified citizens from participating in the To hold the electoral process ”.

“The instructions … made it pretty clear in which direction we should go,” said Sabir.

District officials have also indicated that it would be difficult to get new voting machines in time for this year’s elections in November. Tioga County’s attorney Christopher Gabriel said election officials told him they would need voting machines and supplies for this contest by August 20.

“So if we decertified our machines, it would be more problematic the closer you get to that date,” said Gabriel.

By the end of the weekend, the counties should have responded to Mastriano’s request. The Adams County Republican has signaled that he will try to get the Senate committee he chairs to summon the materials – but a meeting has not yet been set for it.

Sabir said Philadelphia County stands ready to fight any jurisdiction that gets in its way.

“I have full and unwavering faith in our attorneys in town, our Philadelphia County Legal Department. They were excellent and if we have to go back to court we have to go back to court, ”he said.

York County spokesman Mark Walters said that district officials there are taking a “more moderate” approach and asking a variety of questions about the request in a letter that has yet to be answered.

Walters said the county will only respond to each subpoena if and when one is issued.

“The next steps are real [to] hurry up and wait, ”said Walters. “The Senator offered a deadline to respond, York County met that deadline with our response, and we’re really just waiting to see how things go from here.”

The Associated Press reports that a crowdfunding campaign in support of an Arizona-style “review” of the elections has raised more than $ 15,000 from 332 donors.

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