President Biden decisively won the state of Pennsylvania in the 2020 with 3,458,229 votes to Trump’s 3,377,674 votes. However, Trump’s allies quickly began to challenge the results in Pennsylvania, as they had in other swing states carried by Biden. This included an effort by Republican state legislators to create a Bureau of Election Audits.
As required by law, each Pennsylvania county performed an audit of its votes before certification of a winner by the Secretary of State. Then, in February 2021, Pennsylvania completed a “pilot audit” of 63 out of 67 counties across the state. The pilot audit reviewed a random sample of 45,000 ballots to confirm the accuracy of the tabulation process. There was also a state-wide audit of the presidential primary process concluded in August 2020.
In November 2021, despite the two previous audits, Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate initiated a state-wide audit of the 2020 results. They awarded a no-bid contract to Envoy Sage, a small Iowa-based business with no elections experience, to conduct the audit. The audit also included an investigation of voting machines used in Fulton County. As part of the election, the Republican-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee subpoenaed the Department of State for private voter information. As part of the audit, Envoy Sage was hired to review 700 pages of emails regarding concerns raised by Pennsylvania voters about the election procedure.
- State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, was a vocal proponent of an election audit. Mastriano visited Arizona Republican officials running an audit in their state to learn about techniques he wanted to apply in Pennsylvania. He stated, “I don’t know what’s to be concerned or upset about. Just asking for transparency. I know the narrative from several of them over there is about overturning, there’s no extensive claims. How do we know?” Mastriano sent letters to several county election officials across the state demanding they turn over election machines and equipment for an audit. The subpoenas were never issued and Mastreano blamed fellow Republicans or “powers that be” from blocking a legislative committee from issuing the subpoenas to York, Tioga and Philadelphia counties.
- State Sen. Cris Dush, chair of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, led the Senate’s audit into the 2020 election. Dush communicated with Trump regarding the audit, stating of his conversations with the former president, “He congratulated me and said that he wanted to have confidence in me. He’s going to be watching me.”
- Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman advocated for a full forensic audit during an interview with conservative talk show host Wendy Bell. Corman said, “We’re going to have some hearings this week to start the process. We can bring people in, we can put them under oath, right, we can subpoena records, and that’s what we need to do, that’s what we’re going to do.”
- The Senate Republican-led statewide audit begun in November 2021 included a taxpayer-funded $270,250 no-bid contract for Envoy Sage.
- Senate Republicans entered a second, $187,000 contract with Envoy Sage to secure access to ballot tabulation equipment from Fulton County and made by Dominion as part of their auditing effort.
- Both the mandatory county-by-county audit completed before certification and the pilot audit completed in February 2021 affirmed the accuracy of the vote count and did not reveal any instances of fraud.
- A statement of Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar about the pilot audit asserted that “the results provided strong evidence of the accuracy of the count of votes cast in the November 2020 presidential election.”
- The results from the Republican-led state Senate audit were not made public as of September 2022. According to the contract signed with Envoy Sage, it is unclear if the public will ever get to know the results. The contract required Envoy Sage to deliver its findings by May 15, 2022, but the Senate could extend the agreement “if necessary,” which it did.