Pennsylvania GOP proposes creating election audit bureau

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Pennsylvania Republicans are pushing to create a new office to oversee election audits.

The state House of Representatives has approved a budget that would allocate an additional $3.1 million to the state auditor general to create a new Bureau of Election Audits.

In a statement announcing the proposal, state House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R) said the new office was meant to underscore the integrity of future elections — not to review past election results.

“Even a shred of uncertainty in the results of our elections is enough to shake the bedrock of what we stand for in this country,” Cutler said. “We must make strides to grow trust in our processes, and a thorough, independent audit of every election in our Commonwealth is a step toward ensuring the public’s trust.”

Democrats in Pennsylvania say the new office is another avenue by which state Republicans are working to raise doubts about the integrity of the vote. 

“This is another attempt by our Republican majorities to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” said state Rep. Matt Bradford, the top Democrat on the House Government Oversight Committee. “The party of Trump seems to be committed to a voter suppression platform.”

Cutler was among the top Pennsylvania Republicans who signed a letter in December urging Congress to block the state’s presidential electors.

The House-passed budget does not include language specifically authorizing the election audit office, but the additional funds will allow Auditor General Tim DeFoor (R) to establish an office as he sees fit, according to an email from Cutler’s spokesman. The state House is still debating two separate bills to define the office and give it authority to investigate elections, as well as to ensure that all Pennsylvania counties conduct elections in accordance with uniform rules.

However, it is unlikely that DeFoor’s office will benefit from the additional funds: Bradford and other Democrats are urging Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to override the provision with his line-item veto power.

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