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Republicans Criticize Top Election Official's Decision To Decertify Fulton County's Voting Machines

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican state lawmakers are criticizing the decision by Pennsylvania's top election official to decertify the voting machines a sparsely populated county used in the 2020 presidential election.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid decertified the machines after Fulton County disclosed it had agreed to requests by local Republican lawmakers and allowed a software firm to inspect the machines as part of a free post-election audit.

Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Fulton, said Friday he hopes Degraffenreid will reconsider and allow county officials to make their case that the voting machines can be used again. Decertifying the machines was not necessary and it is costly to replace them, Topper said.

Topper said county officials had been unaware that the Department of State had a list of vendors who are certified to test voting machines, and that the department should have made that information known to counties.

Edward Perez, global director of technology development at the California-based OSET Institute, which is devoted to research on election infrastructure and administration, has said it is not normal to hand election equipment to "inexperienced, third-party auditors who are not experienced with election administration practices or with voting system technology."

County officials have maintained they did nothing wrong.

In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said Degraffenreid's action was "antagonistic" and serves to erode voting rights and undermine the role of counties in elections.

The lawmakers' request for the audit came amid former President Donald Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged against him in Pennsylvania and other battleground states.

Degraffenreid, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, notified Fulton County officials in a letter Tuesday that the inspection violated state law. It was done in a manner that "was not transparent or bipartisan" and the firm had "no knowledge or expertise in election technology," Degraffenreid wrote.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission accredits labs to test voting machines. Pennsylvania law requires that voting-machine testing be done by a federally accredited lab.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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