More than nine months after Pennsylvania certified the 2020 election, Republican lawmakers in the state are launching a partisan probe into the vote by soliciting sworn testimony on “irregularities” and scheduling a hearing for next week.
Thursday’s announcement by the committee overseen by state Sen. Cris Dush marks the start to the “forensic investigation” that hardcore supporters of former President Donald Trump have been clamoring for in the battleground state, spurred on by Trump’s allegations of widespread voting fraud.
Dush, a Trump backer who in June toured the site of a contentious audit ongoing in Arizona, was last month tapped to chair the Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee so he could push forward with the election probe.
“As part of the committee’s comprehensive election integrity investigation, Dush is encouraging voters to come forward if they have witnessed voter irregularities or other election improprieties firsthand,” the committee said in a statement.
The committee said it created a webpage to collect testimony and that anyone making a submission must be “comfortable signing an affidavit and potentially testifying under oath at a Senate committee hearing under penalty of perjury.”
It scheduled the first hearing for Sept. 9 in Harrisburg.
The state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, has been critical of the push for another audit of the election, calling a previous attempt at one a “sham” and a “partisan fishing expedition” and vowing to fight against it.
Pennsylvania has already conducted a so-called risk-limiting audit of the November election, and all counties also audited a sample of their votes as mandated by law. Neither effort turned up widespread fraud to put in question Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in the state by 81,000 votes.
The previous attempt at a “forensic” probe of the 2020 election by state senator Doug Mastriano was shut down last month following a tussle between him and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman over his methods. Corman, the Senate’s top Republican, sidelined Mastriano, a vocal Trump supporter, after the two traded public barbs.
Corman spokesman Jason Thompson said the goal of the investigation was not to overturn Trump’s loss.
“It is to restore faith in the system by strengthening election security. That means conducting a thorough investigation that goes much, much further than the limited audits required by state law,” he wrote in an email.