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Kelsey Sena Tamakloe
By Kelsey Sena Tamakloe July 14, 2021

Social media post falsely states that Pennsylvania has started a full audit for the 2020 election

If Your Time is short

  • Pennsylvania has not initiated a full audit for the 2020 election.

  • Pennsylvania already used risk-limiting audits for the 2020 election. They did not reveal fraud.

A social media post claimed that Pennsylvania has begun to audit its 2020 election results.

The July 7 Facebook post said, "BREAKING: Pennsylvania initiated a FULL audit of the RIGGED ELECTION."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its news feed. (Read more about PolitiFact’s partnership with Facebook.)

"The state has not initiated anything," responded Wanda Murren, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State.

There is someone who has been very vocal about wanting to audit some of Pennsylvania’s results: state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano, a Republican, was inspired by his trip to Maricopa County, Ariz., where the state led a partisan review on the 2020 election in April.

Mastriano is exploring whether a privately funded audit is permissible under Pennsylvania law. But not even Mastriano is calling his effort a full audit. On July 7, Mastriano issued letters to Philadelphia, York and Tioga counties requesting a "forensic investigation" and threatening to subpoena counties that do not comply with his request by July 31. City officials at Philadelphia and York told PolitiFact they have received his letter but have yet to respond to it. 

In a statement July 7, the Pennsylvania Department of State said similar attempts to revisit the election results in Arizona and Fulton County, Pa., "turned up absolutely no evidence of any fraud or discrepancies."

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The statement encouraged Pennsylvania counties to refuse Mastriano’s request.

"Pennsylvania counties, despite a convergence of difficult circumstances, ran a free, fair and accurate election in 2020," the department said.

The election results were thoroughly reviewed.

Pennsylvania conducted "risk-limiting" audits in 63 out 67 counties, including the counties that Mastriano contacted. These audits examine a random sample of paper ballots and compare them to the total reported by the vote-counting machine. Back in February, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said these kinds of audits provide "additional confidence in the accuracy of election outcomes, further strengthen our ability to withstand an attack on our electoral system, and confirm that the outcome of an election is accurate." 

The results show that Biden won Pennsylvania by 81,000 votes, or about 1%. The initial count of in-person, Election Day votes showed Trump with an early lead in the state. However, Biden won more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots, helping him capture the state’s 20 electoral votes. 

Our ruling

The Facebook post said that Pennsylvania has started a full audit of the 2020 election results. 

This is inaccurate. 

A senator made headlines for his so-far unsuccessful efforts to persuade a few counties to conduct forensic investigations of their results. So far, no counties have accepted the challenge, because the election results have been affirmed by audits already. 

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, July 7, 2021

Email exchange with Wanda Murren, July 9, 2021

Email exchange with Common Cause Pennsylvania, July 13, 2021

Email exchange with Nick Custodio, Deputy Commissioner, July 14, 2021 

Phone interview with York County Offices, July 14, 2021

Pennsylvania Department of State, PA Department of State Statement on Sham Election Review Attempt, July 7, 2021

Pennsylvania Department of State, Pennsylvania post-election audit workgroup year 2 report, December 31, 2020

Pennsylvania Pressroom, Risk-Limiting audit pilot of November 2020 Presidential election finds strong evidence of accurate count, Feb 05, 2021

The Philadelphia Inquirer, A key Pa. Republican asks counties to hand over ballots and election equipment for an Arizona-style ‘audit,’ July 7, 2021

Doug Mastriano, Op-Ed: Why I am initiating a forensic investigation of the 2020 General Election and 2021 Primary, July 7, 2021

PolitiFact, Fact-checking false claims about Pennsylvania and the presidential election, December 6, 2020

PolitiFact, Trump lost. Yet the 2020 election falsehoods live on in Arizona, June 21, 2021

AZcentral, Senate recount delayed again; Karen Fann says Cyber Ninjas’ count of ballots doesn’t match county’s, Jul 13, 2021

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Social media post falsely states that Pennsylvania has started a full audit for the 2020 election

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