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Local officials divided on more election audits

Both county commissioners Tony Mussare and Scott Metzger are open to additional audits of votes if there is a need for it, referring to possible audits in Tioga County and in the southeastern part of the state. No audits have been suggested for here.

“I would certainly support it, although, I wouldn’t suggest it,” Mussare said. “I’m not going to advocate for it.”

Metzger concurred.

“If the people would want it, I would say yes. We the people,” Metzger said.

In order to ensure election integrity, both commissioners back having some type of voter identification.

“I think it was 81% of the people, not Republicans, not Democrats, believe that there should be some type of voter ID, and most people have an ID,” Mussare said.

Another issue that the two Republicans brought up was mail-in ballots and the issue of when they are counted.

“If you’re going to have mail-in ballots, those votes need to be counted first, not after the fact when you already know what your numbers are from in-person voting,” Metzger said.

Rick Mirabito, the lone Democrat on the Board of Commissioners, feels that there is a need for caution in proceeding with any additional audit.

“We have to be careful before we give out our equipment to an outside group for an audit,” Mirabito said.

He brought up the audit that was done in Arizona, which actually proved that President Joe Biden garnered more votes that originally were tabulated, and former President Donald Trump got fewer. The process cost taxpayers in that state millions of dollars to complete.

Unless someone can bring evidence of wrongdoing, Mirabito said, he felt that it would not be fruitful to spend taxpayer dollars to do another audit.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of our taxpayers,” Mirabito said.

Local election official Forrest Lehman, director of Lycoming County Voter Service, explained that his office had already conducted two audits following the 2020 presidential election.

“There’s an audit requirement in the election code, and we always comply,” Lehman said.

One is a statistical count, which is done internally and examines 2% of the vote for accuracy.

According to Lehman, that was “100% correct.”

There is also a statewide risk-limiting audit in which randomly selected ballots are pulled and reviewed. This is to determine if votes were tabulated accurately.

Lehman said that this audit also showed that the results from the county were correct.

Tioga County is one of the counties in the state targeted for an audit of the presidential election results.

Penny Whipple, Tioga County’s director of election services, would not comment due to the fact the that Senate committee seeking the audit has sent subpoenas to county election officials.

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