President Biden won the state of Pennsylvania in the 2020 election by a margin of 80,555 votes, winning 3,458,229 votes to Trump’s 3,377,674. 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 county in Pennsylvania performed an audit of its votes before the secretary of state certified the winner. Then, in February 2021, Pennsylvania completed a “pilot audit” of 63 of the 67 counties in the state in which auditors reviewed a random sample of 45,000 ballots to confirm the accuracy of the tabulation process. In addition, a statewide audit of the presidential primary process had been conducted in August 2020.
Despite the two previous audits, in November 2021 Republican state senators initiated a statewide audit of the 2020 presidential election results. They awarded a no-bid contract to Envoy Sage, a small Iowa-based firm with no experience with elections, to conduct the audit, which also included an investigation of voting machines used in Fulton County. As part of the audit, the Republican-controlled Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee subpoenaed the Department of State for private voter information and Envoy Sage employees reviewed 700 pages of emails from Pennsylvania voters regarding their concerns about the election procedures.
- State Senator Doug Mastriano, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, was a vocal proponent of an election audit. He visited Arizona Republican officials running an audit in their state to learn about techniques to apply in Pennsylvania. He stated, “I don’t know what’s to be concerned or upset about,” he said publicly. “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. When the subpoenas were never issued, he blamed fellow Republicans or “powers that be” from blocking a legislative committee from issuing them to York, Tioga, and Philadelphia counties.
- State Senator Cris Dush, chair of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee, led the Senate’s audit of the 2020 election and kept in touch with Trump about the audit, stating in reference to 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. “We’re going to have some hearings this week to start the process,” Corman said. ”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.
- As part of their auditing effort, Senate Republicans agreed to a second, $187,000 contract with Envoy Sage to secure access to ballot tabulation equipment from Fulton County and made by Dominion.
- 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 by 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 of the Republican-led state Senate audit have not been made public and it is unclear if they ever will be, according to the contract signed with Envoy Sage. The contract required the company to deliver its findings by May 15, 2022, but the Senate could extend the agreement “if necessary,” which it did.