It’s nonetheless not clear who financed an audit of Fulton County’s election gear earlier this 12 months, or how a lot it value, regardless of persistent questions from the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee throughout its first listening to on the matter Thursday afternoon.
Fulton County Fee Chairman Stewart Ulsh testified earlier than lawmakers that he by no means thought of how costly the probe – first urged to him by Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg within the weeks following the 2020 election – is perhaps and confirmed solely that it didn’t value something for taxpayers.
“I’ve had folks inform me they’ll by no means vote once more,” Ulsh mentioned Thursday. “That’s one of many issues that led me to do what I’ve completed.”
Certainly, the voluntary audit didn’t value something, at first. Then, the Division of State decertified the county’s Dominion voting gear after studying that Wake Expertise Companies (TSI) had accessed them, violating the state’s chain of custody provisions and different “strict limitations” designed to forestall tampering.
Substitute prices for the voting machines may exceed $1 million. It’s why commissioners in Tioga and York counties denied an analogous request in July from Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Gettysburg.
However for Ulsh, a flurry of contradictory steerage from the division within the days main as much as the election and the novelty of the state’s mail-in poll counting course of left him questioning if ballot staff received every thing proper.
“With all of the modifications and every thing that was occurring, it was already on my thoughts questioning what to do to double verify ourselves,” he mentioned. “I wished to know myself if every thing was completed correctly.”
Wake TSI’s official 93-page report on the audit, accomplished in January, uncovered no malfeasance or fraud, however as an alternative claimed that the “election was nicely run, was performed in a diligent and efficient method and adopted the instructions of the Commonwealth.”
What the report didn’t clarify, regardless of Ulsh’s insistence on the contrary throughout his testimony Thursday, was how a lot the hassle value and who paid for it. A doc obtained by the Arizona Mirror hyperlinks the audit to Mastriano, Wake TSI and its contractor, Defending the Republic .
The latter is a nonprofit headed by Sidney Powell, a former Trump marketing campaign lawyer who challenged President Joe Biden’s victory in a handful of swing states final 12 months. Defending the Republic additionally contracted the corporations that dealt with the forensic audit in Arizona earlier this 12 months.
Of word, Mastriano visited Phoenix in early June with Sen. Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, and Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, to observe the audit in progress and meet with the Arizona GOP lawmakers who helped finance it.
Ulsh mentioned Thursday he knew nothing of Mastriano’s involvement in Fulton County’s voting gear evaluation till after it had been accomplished.
Democratic Chairman Sen. Tony Williams, D-Philadelphia, mentioned it’s “troubling” that Ulsh can’t direct him to the place details about the audit’s value is perhaps out there.
“In the event you don’t know who paid for it, I’ll settle for that,” he mentioned earlier than suggesting that understanding the general value “might shed some mild on questions which were raised.”
Dush, who additionally chairs the committee, mentioned Thursday in his opening remarks that the listening to – and others to return – aren’t about reversing the outcomes of the presidential election, however quite figuring out the failings in present regulation that will have been launched within the 2019 modernization invoice that allowed, amongst different issues, no-excuse mail-in voting.
He additionally criticized the division for opting in opposition to taking part within the listening to, citing its pending litigation with Fulton County over the decertified election gear.
The data gleaned from the hearings will assist Dush resolve when, and if, the Senate will use subpoena powers to execute its personal Arizona-style forensic audit. Democrats have panned the hassle as determined, self-serving and a waste of time, whereas Republicans proceed combating internally concerning the route and velocity of the probe.
“The facility to situation a subpoena isn’t limitless, and we have now to make sure sound authorized footing earlier than we exit on that limb,” Dush mentioned Thursday. “As well as, we have now to be prepared, prepared and in a position, to really evaluation and make the most of meaningfully any info that we obtain in response to our subpoenas. Having a listening to just like the one we’re having at present permits us the room to fulfill all of these concerns.”