Topline

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania blocked a third-party company from inspecting voting machines supplied by Dominion Voting Systems in Fulton County on Friday, at least temporarily, amid a contentious Republican-led partisan audit of the state’s 2020 presidential election.

Key Facts

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the state’s request to stop an inspection of Fulton County’s voting machines right before it was scheduled to take place at 1:00 p.m. Friday.

The court said it was blocking the inspection until the matter is considered by the full court.

Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania have hired the company Envoy Sage to carry out its election audit and inspect the voting machines, though the company does not appear to have any past elections experience, according to its website.

Dominion Voting Systems and Democratic state officials had pushed the court to only allow the voting machine inspection if it was carried out by an accredited elections inspector, but their requests have so far been denied.

Big Number

85.55%. That’s the percentage of Fulton County’s votes that former President Donald Trump won in the 2020 election. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star notes it’s “unclear” why the Trump-friendly county’s voting machines are being inspected, though this would have marked the second time the county has had its voting machines inspected by a third-party regarding the 2020 election. That first inspection led to the state decertifying the county’s voting machines—and threatening to do the same to other counties if third parties inspect their machines. Other Pennsylvania counties have previously refused to turn over election materials like voting machines as a result, given the significant cost of replacing the machines.

Key Background

Pennsylvania’s election audit kicked off in earnest in early September, and Republicans claim they’re undertaking the probe to “gather and study” information about the election to clarify “ambiguities” in the state’s election law. Democrats have slammed the Republican-led audit as a “sham” and a “travesty” designed to sow distrust in the battleground state’s election results, which former President Donald Trump and his allies have baselessly claimed were subject to widespread fraud. The Pennsylvania audit is part of a broader effort nationwide by Republicans to launch partisan election audits of the presidential results, which started with a contentious private-led audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, that ultimately found no evidence of fraud. The investigations will not change the vote count or overturn any results, but critics warn they could still undermine people’s faith in the election results. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election and numerous official audits and investigations have affirmed the results.

What To Watch For

The Pennsylvania Senate signed a six-month contract with Envoy Sage in November to inspect its elections and state voting materials, which could be extended. Republican lawmakers are expected to hold hearings this spring on the firm’s findings and have issued subpoenas for a wide variety of voter information. While Democrats sued to block the subpoenas, a state court ruled earlier this week the requests can at least partially move forward—but did not immediately grant Republicans’ attempt to subpoena information that Democrats argued are protected by privacy laws, like voters’ partial Social Security numbers.

Tangent

Dominion’s voting machines, which were used in Fulton County and 13 other Pennsylvania counties, have long been at the center of far-right conspiracy theories about election fraud despite a total lack of evidence. Repeated investigations have found no signs of wrongdoing involving the company’s machines, and the company has filed a series of defamation lawsuits.

Further Reading

GOP Effort To Inspect Pennsylvania County’s Voting Machines Advances (CBS Pittsburgh)

What to know about the vendor that’s conducting the Pa. Senate’s election investigation (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Privacy and Trump dominate arguments in GOP’s election case (Associated Press)

Pennsylvania’s Election Audit Gets Off To Wild Start As GOP Subpoenas Personal Details On Every Voter In State (Forbes)

Source: Forbes – Business

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