Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania's state Senate will hold their first public hearing Thursday on the 2020 presidential election in an effort that some say is meant to tighten security around voting.
The hearing is the culmination of weeks of infighting within the state's Republican party over whether there would be a full "forensic audit" of the election now nearly 11 months ago, or simply an "election investigation."
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican who attended the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot in Washington D.C. and who has aspirations for the U.S. Senate in 2022, previously called for a full-scale audit of the election. He tried to get a few of Pennsylvania's counties, including Philadelphia, to hand over voting machines as part of an investigation.
However, following a spat with Republican Senate President Jake Corman, Mastriano was booted from any inquiry into the election that saw President Joe Biden handily defeat former President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania.
The hearing is the latest Republican stab at the results of the 2020 election in which Pennsylvania played a deciding factor in the victory for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Trump disputed the results for weeks, even though he lost Pennsylvania by a greater margin than he beat Hillary Clinton four years earlier.
Though many Republicans for months, along with Trump, claimed that Biden won Pennsylvania because of voter fraud, no evidence was ever found. Most Republicans have since pivoted to declaring that further hearings will look at ways to improve election security.
The hearing on Thursday at 1 p.m. will be held by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee overseen by Republican Chairman Chris Dush.
"As part of the investigation into the 2020 General Election and 2021 Primary Election, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee is encouraging Pennsylvanians to share any potential violations of election law or voting irregularities they have witnessed personally," the committee leadership said in a statement. "This evidence will be critical in the committee’s efforts to identify gaps in our laws that can be addressed by the General Assembly."
"Pennsylvania Department of State officials are invited to testify at the hearing regarding last-minute guidance provided to counties and its impact on the 2020 General Election," the Senate Republican leadership said in a statement posted last week. "The hearing will be part of the committee’s broader investigation into Pennsylvania’s election system."
It remains unclear if anyone from Gov. Tom Wolf's office will take part in the hearing. A message left for a Wolf spokeswoman and a spokeswoman for the State Department was not immediately answered.