Thursday, September 16

PA state senator ruled’out of order’ for noting GOP witness challenged 2020 election result


  • Republicans control Pennsylvania’s state legislature.
  • On Thursday, they held a hearing on “election integrity.”
  • The sole witness was Fulton County Commissioner Stuart Ulsh.

A Democratic state senator in Pennsylvania was ruled “out of order” Thursday after he began reading an email that indicated Republicans’ sole witness at a hearing on “election integrity” had cosigned claims the 2020 election was rigged.

Although Pennsylvania’s GOP leadership has balked at conducting any full-on, Arizona-style “audit” of the 2020 vote, a majority of the party’s elected lawmakers backed an effort to prevent certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The focus of Thursday’s hearing was guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Department of State to local elections officials. Because of the pandemic, and a mail-in voting law approved by Republicans in 2019, millions of Pennsylvanians cast absentee ballots for the first time, testing the capacity of county election offices.

Fulton County Commissioner Stuart Ulsh, a Republican, was the only official to testify. Former President Donald Trump won the small county in Central Pennsylvania by 6,824 votes to 1,085 for Biden.

At the hearing, Ulsh conceded that no evidence of significant fraud was ever uncovered, Reuters reported, despite a third-party “audit” of the Fulton County election by software company Wake TSI. That review had been sought by state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican ally of Trump who has promoted debunked claims that the 2020 election was rigged by China.

As the news organization Pennsylvania Spotlight reported in August, however, Ulsh earlier endorsed claims of fraud. In the days after the November 2020 election, he used a private email address to implore state Republican lawmakers to join “this fight with Senator Mastriano,” a fact that state Sen. Vincent Hughes, a Democrat, brought up at the hearing.

“It couldn’t hurt the Trump campaign if our state Representatives all got involved,” Ulsh wrote. “If we don’t stop this election problems next will be worse. If there where [sic] 109 house and 27 senate with Senator Mastriano it would be a big help. The people need this. Respect their vote.”

Senator Cris Dush, a Republican who disputed the results of the 2020 election, shut down the reading of that email.

“Senator Hughes, you’re out of order,” Dush said, arguing the hearing was specifically focused on

Hughes, for his part, insisted that “all of this relates.”

“But I guess in the end, since the report indicated there was no fraudlent voting that occurred in Fulton County, I guess it’s not an issue,” he said.

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