State Sen. Cris Dush speaks out against death threats toward Tioga County commissioners

State Sen. Cris Dush, R-Pine Creek Township, condemned those who are making death threats against the Tioga County commissioners over their decision not to submit voting machines to an election audit in a statement released Friday.

“I am outraged at the behavior of those who claim to be in support of the audit process but are seeming to do everything they can to undermine it and the rule of law,” the statement reads. “In the strongest terms, I condemn anyone who makes death threats and other acts of intimidation against the Tioga County commissioners or the employees of the county. This is not the appropriate way to voice your concern. Further, I encourage law enforcement to investigate these threats and to take appropriate action.”

Dush, who has given his support to an effort by state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Fayetteville, for an Arizona-style election audit, also acknowledged the commissioners’ reasoning for not submitting to the audit “at this time and in this manner.”

The audit would require the county to turn over its election machines, possibly rendering them void for future elections due to stringent requirements outlined by the state.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s top election official, told counties recently the state would decertify any election equipment that is subject to third-party access, citing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s designation of election equipment as “critical infrastructure.”

If the commissioners submitted the machines and then needed to replace them, it could cost up to $1.3 million and the county could be at risk of not being prepared for local and state elections come November, the commissioners have said.

“We can’t be in a position where we don’t have the election machines, because we have to run the next election, these are extremely expensive machines and our position is we need to follow the direction that (Degraffenreid) has given us,” said Tioga County solicitor Christopher Gabriel.

The commissioners’ chairman, Roger Bunn, a Republican, said the county had audited the voting machines and systems used in the 2020 presidential election according to requirements in state law and had found no significant problems, the Associated Press reported when the commissioners initially declined to submit to Mastriano’s audit.

“I agree with and support the county commissioners’ decision to not release the election materials at this time and in this manner. Additionally, I have full confidence that the elections in Tioga County were run exceptionally well and no one who works for the county is attempting to hide anything,” Dush stated.

“To be clear, I am working in support of an audit to ensure the security and sanctity of our election are being preserved,” he said. “I am working diligently with Senate leadership to both protect Tioga County and to ensure we look at the integrity of Pennsylvania elections. I believe we are close to a solution that respects the rule of law, protects Tioga County, and will allow us to protect our election system.”

The Associated Press reported just last week that the commissioners had written to Mastriano, stating they would cooperate with the audit if the state could guarantee new voting machines would be paid for and delivered by Aug. 20.

“So far, we have received no response to this request, even though prior to receiving your (Mastriano’s) letter it was conveyed to us on your behalf that such funding would be made available to us as part of your inquiry,” the commissioners wrote, according to the Associated Press.

Without such guarantee, “we are thus unable to grant you access to our machines.”


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