Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, joins GOP colleagues in Fulton County, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2021, to respond to decertification of voting machines. (Screenshot)
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and some of his GOP buddies in the Capitol might be all ready to plunge ahead with a planned ‘forensic investigation,’ of the results of the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary.
But as the dog days of summer descend, the majority of Pennsylvanians say they’re not ready to go tumbling down the central Pennsylvania Republican’s electoral rabbit hole, and most are convinced that, yes, President Joe Biden did win the White House fair and square last November.
Those are the top-line findings of a new poll by advocacy group States United Action (Consider your caveat officially emptored there).
Just about three-quarters of the poll’s sample of 600 registered voters said they’ve heard at least something about Mastriano’s proposed probe. And of those who have, respondents said, 47-33 percent, that the process could not be trusted.
Respondents also said, 57-38 percent, that Biden got the most votes.
And once they’re brought up to speed on the background of Mastriano’s planned investigation, respondents said, by a 15-point margin (53-38 percent) that they will trust the certified vote count more than the results of Mastriano’s planned investigation.
Specifically, respondents were asked, “Just so we are on the same page, state Senator Doug Mastriano recently sent letters to three Pennsylvania counties asking them to send election-related equipment and materials ‘needed to conduct a forensic investigation’ of the 2020 election and 2021 primary. Mastriano requested that the counties send him every single ballot, mail ballot applications, mail ballot envelopes, voting machines, vote-counting equipment, ballot production equipment, poll books, personal information about each voter, all security passwords, and computer equipment used in the election,” according to a copy of the polling memo obtained by the Capital-Star.
Respondents were then asked which they’d trust more: Mastriano’s probe or “the official results already certified by election officials in Pennsylvania?” the polling memo read.
Mastriano, who chairs the seldom-used Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, gave three Pennsylvania counties — Philadelphia, Tioga and York Counties, until Saturday to comply with his sweeping request for equipment used in those canvasses. The obscure panel typically does not have oversight of election issues.
Republican-heavy York County has already have objected to that request. GOP-friendly Tioga County has formally rejected it. And elections officials in Philadelphia are set to take up the issue this Friday, and will respond, one imagines, in the most Philadelphia way possible.
If you need a refresher, former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election by 80,555 votes in Pennsylvania, the Capital-Star and other news organizations have previously reported. And despite a months-long campaign from Republicans and Trump allies to discredit the results, there’s been no evidence to prove their claims.
“Pennsylvania voters get it: county officials have already certified and audited the 2020 election and this partisan attempt to conduct a fake ‘audit’ is just a sad sequel to the damaging situation playing out in Arizona,” Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States United Action, said in a statement. “We applaud the bipartisan leaders in the state who are pushing back on this bad faith effort.”
As required by law, all 67 Pennsylvania counties conducted post-election audits of a statistical sampling after the 2020 general election. Sixty-three counties conducted “risk-limiting” audits. Neither review found evidence of voter fraud or election misconduct.
That hasn’t deterred Mastriano, a Trump ally who’s also spread baseless claims of election fraud, from pushing ahead with his investigation. His efforts have garnered public support from a handful of colleagues, while most of the Senate GOP caucus has stayed conspicuously silent.
That changed on Thursday when Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, who, like Mastriano, is a likely GOP candidate for governor in 2022, publicly swatted down the investigation, without mentioning Mastriano by name.
In an op-Ed sent to the Capital-Star and other news organizations, he argued that GOP gains on Capitol Hill, the state Legislature, and in Pennsylvania’s elected row offices weren’t evidence of a stolen election. It just meant “Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump received fewer votes,” the northwestern Pa. pol wrote.
The Legislature, he added, has “real work to do.”
Mastriano has repeatedly declined the Capital-Star’s requests for comment about his planned investigation.
Meanwhile, in other reality-defying news, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, incorrectly claimed during a Capitol news conference that the COVID-19 vaccines are ‘experimental” and have not been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
“It has been 499 days since we’ve been told 15 days to stop the spread. None of this has anything to do with science,” Perry, of York County, said. “None of this has anything to do with reality. I’ll remind everybody here, these vaccinations are not approved by the FDA. They are experimental. Yet this government is saying you’ll inject something into your body whether you want to or not. You want to know the definition of tyranny? That’s the definition of tyranny.”
Both Reuters and PolitiFact already have debunked the assertion that the vaccines have not received FDA approval.
“[Instagram] Posts saying COVID-19 vaccines are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are missing context,” Reuters reported on June 1. “The three COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been granted authorization for emergency use by the FDA in the United States due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, after going through trials to establish their safety and efficacy.”
Perry’s office did not directly respond to a request for comment. Instead, a spokesman pointed to a CNN story, published Thursday, that said the FDA was working as quickly as it could on the “full approval,” of the vaccines.
In March, in its own story ruling the ‘experimental’ claim “mostly false,” Politifact reported that the FDA had “granted emergency use authorization to three COVID-19 vaccines.”
Further, the “clinical trial results and other requirements for emergency use are little different from what is required for final approval,” PolitiFact reported.
“The FDA issued emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines,” PolitiFact reported. “While that falls short of a final approval, Northwestern University professor of medical ethics Seema Shah said that’s a distinction with little difference.”
Shah told PolitiFact that “an emergency use authorization has a slightly lower bar to cross than full approval, but has come about after a comprehensive review of the data. Most of the steps cut out by the FDA have to do more with paperwork than with stringency of review.”
Perry’s remarks were first reported by ABC News Reporter Ben Siegel, who covers the White House and Capitol Hill for the network.
The news conference, a festival of free-floating grievance, was put on by the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Perry, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who, among other things, objected to the certification of the 2020 election results, and who downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection, is a senior member of that group.
Pennsylvania’s opioid disaster declaration expires next week. Will Gov. Tom Wolf renew it? Marley Parish takes up the question.
Despite rising COVID-19 infection rates, state health officials aren’t imposing a new mask mandate – but they are urging unvaccinated people to get the jab, Lindsay Weber reports.
Starting this year, all Philly public schools will have gender-neutral bathrooms, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.
On our Commentary Page this morning, the late civil rights activist Bob Moses played a critical role in math literacy for Black students, an Ohio State University scholar explains. And white critics popping off about critical race theory know nothing about critical race theory, columnist Michael Coard, of the Philadelphia Tribune, writes,
En la Estrella-Capital, en Lancaster, Gov. Tom Wolf promociona el alivio del COVID a bares y restaurantes de Pa. Y los funcionarios de la administración de Wolf presionan para concientizar sobre las enfermedades transmitidas por las garrapatas.
Despite new guidance from the CDC, some Philly-area schools aren’t planning to require masks — at least for now, the Inquirer reports.
The state will text 250,000 people to remind them to get their second vaccination, the Post-Gazette reports.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will mandate vaccinations for all of its employees, WHYY-FM reports.
Officials in York County have received reports of people claiming to belong to an “election integrity committee” going door to door asking people about their votes, the York Dispatch reports.
A transportation advisory panel set up by the Wolf administration will recommend $15.6 billion in improvements, the Associated Press reports (via the Morning Call).
A coalition of more than 50 state and local officials have called on the Biden administration to shut down a controversial immigrant detention center in Berks County, City & State PA reports.
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, will launch his U.S. Senate campaign in August, Roll Call reports, adding to an already very crowded primary field.
Lawmakers across the country have filed more than 3,000 police-related bills since May 2020, Stateline.org reports.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill now before Congress calls for spending billions of dollars to shift to a lower-carbon power sector, but some activists say more needs to be done, Roll Call reports.
Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
But the wheels of capitalism grind ever onward. State Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Blair, holds an 11 am. reception. State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, holds a 7 p.m. reception. Hit both events, and give at the max, and you’re out a mere $2,000 today.
Gov. Tom Wolf hits the road this Friday for a pair of events. At 11 a.m., he’ll visit a community health center in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood to tout the state’s Pennie healthcare exchange. At 1:30 p.m., he’s off to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pa., to announce the administration’s “Plan for Pennsylvania’s State Parks of Tomorrow.” If it doesn’t involve jetpacks, I will be very disappointed.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out in advance to all-purpose leftist agitator Sean Kitchen, of Harrisburg, who celebrates on Saturday, and to Jeff Garis, of the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, who celebrates on Sunday. May your days be filled with [Billy] Bragging rights, gents.
Here’s the new single from Coldplay, ‘Coloratura,’ which stretches the definition of a single as it sprawls over some 10 minutes and 19 seconds. This one is purpose-built for stadiums.
Friday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link
Manchester City are gunning for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish during the summer transfer season. Villa have offered the forward a new contract, who shone for England during this month’s Euro 2021 competition. The Guardian has the details.
And now you’re up to date.
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