York County officials leave door cracked for election audit; earlier request acknowledged

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
Hanover residents Edie Springfloat, Sheila O'Neill and Christie Rutledge pose with signs outside of the York County Administrative Center. The three attended the Board of Commissioners meeting in support of a forensic election audit of the 2020 election.

York County officials are leaving the door open to cooperate with Doug Mastriano's election "audit" but said the ball is in the conservative state senator and Trump ally's court.

Earlier this month, Mastriano sent letters to three counties — Philadelphia, a Democratic bastion and the state's largest city, and GOP-controlled Tioga and York counties — to request access to a sweeping list of information, documents and equipment, with the threat of subpoenas for holdouts.

The Adams County Republican, who has helped spread former President Donald Trump's baseless claims that the election was rigged, has said he wants to ease the concerns of Republican voters who do not trust the outcome of the 2020 election.

More:Pennsylvania decertifies county's voting system after audit

More:Supporters of election audit flood York County Commissioners meeting

More:York County raises objection to Mastriano's election audi


But, as The Associated Press reports, no county election board, prosecutor or state official has raised a concern over any sort of widespread election fraud in the November election in Pennsylvania.

The York County Board of Commissioners responded to Mastriano last week, questioning in a four-page letter the legality of his request and asking if the Senate or state would supply the staff, oversight and money needed to conduct the audit. Tioga officials also balked; Philadelphia didn't reply.

The board also noted that its recently purchased voting machines could be decertified by the state if the county complied with Mastriano's request.

"We had what we thought were very valid concerns that we wanted to have answered, and we want to have certainly an open and professional dialogue with the senator, but really are looking for some direction from him on those concerns that we had," President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Thursday. "So I would say the door is still open, but we want to make sure that we are following the guidelines and roles that we have to follow for a county election office."  

York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for YMCA of York and York County's Urban Park in York City, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Wheeler has said it would cost the county more than $2.7 million to replace decertified voting machines.

After Wednesday's commissioners meeting, where supporters of an audit encouraged the board to cooperate with Mastriano, Wheeler said they had followed up with the state senator's office. She said the board was told Mastriano does plan to respond. He did not return calls for comment made to his office. 

Wheeler said the commissioners have also heard from constituents who don't want to see a forensic audit happen.

Commissioner Doug Hoke, a Democrat, said Thursday that he has full confidence in how the county ran the November 2020 election. 

"I've always been of the opinion that if evidence is produced that something had happened or gone wrong, then we need to look at it. If there's no evidence, my position has been that until it's proven we can't just move forward and jeopardize the equipment," he said. 

York County Vice President Commissioner Doug Hoke lends his support as the County of York and York County Economic Alliance announce the completion of their fiber broadband installation project along a 16-mile stretch of the Heritage Rail Trail at Hanover Junction Station in North Codorus Township, Friday, May 14, 2021. Wireless internet towers were installed at both the Brillhart Station and Hanover Junction trailheads. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Hoke said he's waiting for Mastriano to answer York County officials' questions and file a subpoena for the information he's seeking. Hoke also said he would want guidance from state government officials on what they think of Mastriano's proposed audit.

The July request is the second one Mastriano has made of the York County commissioners. The commissioners met with Mastriano in December 2020 to discuss an earlier request for an election audit.

A Jan. 4 letter from the commissioners references the meeting, which included a representative from Wake Technologies, the company Mastriano has solicited to engage in a potential audit. In the letter, the commissioners say they want a subpoena.

"As stated, the majority of the board has no objection to the request but believe that having the issued subpoena to engage the audit gives a level of comfort to the Board to engage in this process," the letter reads.

At around the same time that request was made, Fulton County allowed Wake Technologies to conduct an audit of its election. 

The Pennsylvania Department of State on Tuesday decertified Fulton County's voting machines, noting the "audit" was done in a manner that “was not transparent or bipartisan” and Wake Technologies has “no knowledge or expertise in election technology.”