GUEST EDITORIAL: Pennsylvania doesn't need yet another audit of 2020 election

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol on December 14, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/TNS)

Pennsylvania lawmakers seem to have a penchant for proposing actions that cost time and money but produce — well, nothing.

Consider the latest move by state Sen. David Argall, R-Schuykill, who chairs the Senate State Government Committee. He is now backing an audit of last November's presidential contest in the state, similar to the partisan review Republicans called for in Arizona.

What would such an audit produce? By Argall's own admission, it wouldn't change a thing. During a Spotlight PA Capitol Live event, the senator acknowledged that such an audit would have no bearing — as if it could — on the election results showing Joe Biden as the winner in Pennsylvania.

"The results are the results," Argall said. "The Electoral College has spoken. You know the president has been sworn in. I understand that's a reality."

So why yet another audit, which Argall could undertake because his committee has subpoena powers? It's no coincidence that Argall's call for an audit comes shortly after he and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, were admonished by former President Donald Trump for not moving forward with the election review. In a statement, the former president asked: "Are they stupid, corrupt or naive? What is going on?"

For the record, the state's election results have been audited twice, and results have been verified by election officials from all 67 counties as well as state elections officials. Even Trump's own attorney general, William Barr, said repeatedly that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania's election.

Still, Argall maintains that another audit could help identify problems in the state's election law and lead to changes. But the state House has already held 10 hearings and has proposed sweeping changes to voting in Pennsylvania, a proposal in its current form that is sure to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Republicans in the Legislature are no doubt experiencing a bit of buyer's remorse over the voting law changes they approved in 2019. At that time, they agreed to allow all voters across the state to use mail-in voting, rather than requiring voters to provide a reason for requesting an absentee ballot. In exchange, Wolf and Democratic leaders agreed to remove the straight-party voting option from the ballot. It was a compromise agreed to by both parties.

What no one saw coming was the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in millions choosing to use mail-in ballots. And the overwhelming number of those mailed ballots were from registered Democrats.

The last thing the state needs is yet another audit of the 2020 election. County elections officials, the ones who shoulder the most responsibility for conducting fair elections, have made it clear what is needed — an earlier start on counting mail-in ballots, an earlier deadline to request mail ballots and more funding to cover the added costs.

If state leaders are really committed to improving the election process and making it better for all voters, they should concentrate on those areas rather than wasting more time on an audit of election results that have never really been in doubt.

— From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS).