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Inside a 'deeply flawed' Pa. voter fraud search

Plus, police trainers with far-right ties.


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May 9, 2022
'Phantom voters,' far-right ties, key endorsement, bulk mail, protective order, Roe checks, and where-wolves in London. It's Monday. Welcome.
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Canvassing data collected by a right-wing group working to overturn Pennsylvania's 2020 election results is "riddled with errors" and the product of a "deeply flawed" methodology, LNP | LancasterOnline reports.

While Audit the Vote PA says its volunteers found people insisting they didn't vote in the 2020 election despite state records showing they did (aka "phantom voters"), LNP says the volunteers often took the word of spouses, parents, tenants, roommates, and children — not the actual voter.

The canvassers also made unsure answers sound definitive, often failed to confirm that the person lived at the relevant address at the relevant time, and overestimated irregularities based on little more than hearsay

In an interview with LNP, Audit the Vote's CEO, Toni L. Shuppe of Beaver County, acknowledged problems with the data collection but maintained that the results of the last presidential election still "can't be trusted."

In the 18 months since President Joe Biden won Pennsylvania and the presidency, Audit the Vote PA has pushed to decertify the state's election results. The group is now using the flawed canvassing data to mobilize poll workers for 2022 and gain support from state lawmakers, all while its members run for office themselves.

THE CONTEXT: A new F&M College poll found nearly three-quarters (72%) of registered Republicans in Pennsylvania don't like the way elections are administered here — by far the highest share of any political group.

(Dissatisfaction among all political affiliations combined was nearly double what it was in 2020, but the poll did not specify the reasons.)

Surveys have found that Republican voters were far more likely to be swayed by the persistent claims of voter fraud coming from former President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers in states like this one.

The claims were again a fixture at Trump's Greensburg rally in support of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz on Friday, with state Treasurer Stacy Garrity telling the crowd: "We know (Trump) won."

There is no proof of widespread voter fraud in 2020 and the AP reported that every suspected isolated case combined wouldn't be enough to change the outcome in six battleground states. The AP also reports that a new film touting proof of paid "ballot mules" in Pennsylvania has "gaping holes."

"I wanted to enjoy my son's first birthday. It's hard to separate the joy in celebrating him from the pain of having him taken away from us."

Grace Smith of Monroe County who was separated from her newborn in the hospital after a doctor mistook her ADHD medication for illegal drugs
» A complete guide to the May 17 primary, including how to vote, find your polling place, understand mail-in ballots, and more

» How to make sure your mail ballot is counted in the primary

» A guide to the overlooked race for Pa. lieutenant governor

» Your guide to the Democratic and GOP candidates for governor

» Big donations to GOP guv hopefuls: Who gave and how much?

» See how much cash Josh Shapiro has raised in the governor's race

» More election coverage

Support Spotlight PA's public-service election and voting coverage now.

"Gwynedd Preserve Meadow," a photo by PA Poster @noraodendahlSend us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
FAR-RIGHT TIES: The founder of a Pennsylvania firm that trains police and military personnel in weapons handling shared 2020 election conspiracies online and had a working presence at the rally that fed the U.S. Capitol siege, Reuters reports. The founder, former Washington Township police officer Ryan Morris, said the social media posts were just "marketing" and that the firm is politically neutral. Reuters says it's part of a broader trend of U.S. police trainers with far-right ties.

RALLY-GOERS: Three GOP candidates for governor braved the elements on Friday to attend former President Donald Trump's Greensburg rally for Mehmet Oz, his choice in Pennsylvania's GOP U.S. Senate primary (but not always the crowd's, apparently). A large share of registered Republicans remain undecided in the gubernatorial race and Trump's homestretch nod could be a difference-maker. 

VOTER DRIVE: A Republican-led effort to drive voter turnout in Philly's 26th Ward is raising red flags. The Inquirer reports election officials received mail ballot applications from dozens of GOP voters there, all asking to have their ballot sent to the same GOP-linked P.O. box. The 23-year-old (now former) ward leader behind the effort says it's all above board, but lawyers from both parties are unsure. The scrutiny comes as the GOP itself attacks mail voting and warns of "ballot harvesting."

PFA DISMISSED: A judge has dismissed a temporary protective order against Teddy Daniels, the MAGA Republican whose wife accused him of threatening to kill her and her family over unflattering press coverage of his ongoing lieutenant governor campaign, the AP reports. Lawyers for Daniels, the chosen running mate of GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Doug Mastriano, attacked the wife's motivation and credibility. "Justice was served today," Daniels said outside the Wayne County Courthouse.

ABORTION ANSWERS: With Roe v. Wade newly imperiled, NPR fact-checked "seven persistent claims" about abortion and found that most Americans support access in most or all cases and that the number of abortions is actually lower now than before the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973. Spotlight PA reported that what happens in Pennsylvania if Roe is overturned depends largely on who the next governor is
PRIMARY COLORS: Attack ads against progressive congressional candidate Summer Lee are at the center of an intra-Democratic Party conflict in Pittsburgh, per TribLIVE. Notable Democrats are calling on Steve Irwin, Lee's opponent in the primary for U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle's open seat, to disavow the ads being run on his behalf by a pro-­Israel super PAC

FERN HOLLOW: Newly released photos captured by a city bus confirm that Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge collapse started at the span's western end, Pittsburgh Magazine reports. The probe continues, while TribLIVE reports public input on the rebuild will be limited. The collapse was even a clue on Jeopardy! last week. None of the contestants got the answer right.

EARLY VOTING: A handful of states have declared that they will apply to host early nominating contests that could dramatically alter how the Democratic Party's presidential nominees are chosen, The New York Times reports. Pennsylvania isn't one of those states, but there is legislation pending here that would move the presidential primary up by five weeks

STEP ONE: Applications to vote by mail in the May 17 primary must be received by your county election office by 5 p.m. tomorrow. At this juncture, you should apply in person at the election office or online here. Then read Spotlight PA's tips for making sure your mail ballot is counted.

DEAR JAWN: There is a Philadelphia dive bar-themed restaurant chain in London called Passyunk Avenue. It looks like this and its website devotes an entire section to explaining the meaning of the word "Yo!
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

This week's theme: We're talkin' baseball
Friday's answer: Equinoctial

Congrats to our weekly winner: Lewis M.

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Pat B., Bonnie R., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Elaine C., Kimberly S., Craig W., Susan D., George S., Catherine B., Judith D., Bill S., Dianne K., Starr B., and Vicki U.
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