Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) wants a permanent state presence to protect the election process, and he’s proposed a new Bureau of Election Audits to do just that.
It would be part of the state Auditor General’s Office, Cutler said.
“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.”
The bureau, to be established with a $3.1 million appropriation in the state budget, would be required to conduct audits of each election in the commonwealth and confirm the results by the third Friday following the election, according to a statement.
The audits would comprehensively examine all future elections, including voting equipment, as well as absentee and mail-in ballots. It would include performance audits of election systems at least every five years and any other audit deemed necessary by the new bureau to ensure the public trust in the outcome of each election. Additionally, the bureau would provide action plans to address any errors or deficiencies discovered in the audit.
“Pennsylvanians rightly deserve and expect elections to be secure and accurate,” Cutler said. “An investment that ensures the public’s trust in our electoral process is worth every penny.”
However, the bureau would not review previous elections, such as the 2020 presidential election some supporters of former President Donald Trump believe was manipulated or rife with fraud.
And if the standing Auditor General is running for any office, he or she would be required to appoint an independent auditor to oversee the bureau for that general or primary election.
Several Delaware Valley area Republican legislators support the proposal.
“I firmly believe having election audits would instill confidence in every election’s accuracy,” said Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Harleysville). “Transparency of the process and results will help build trust and confidence in our election process—which every Pennsylvanian should expect.”
Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Richboro) said, “This is something I dealt with extensively in the private sector and when I served on the Council Rock School Board. Audits are a critical check on any system’s integrity. I cannot think of a reason not to audit. Once it’s complete, you can assemble a report to identify what works and where there could be improvements. We had them in business, we had them on the school board. We should have them to study the efficiency of our election process.”
“Confidence in our elections is foundational to our system of government,” said Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford). “The establishment of a Bureau of Election Audits, tasked with examining the processes and results of future elections, has merit. Audits are a commonly used tool in both business and government. It makes sense we should utilize them for our elections. Pennsylvanians have a right to be certain that our elections are free, fair, secure, and the results accurate.”
The proposal will be considered by the House State Government Committee.