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In Mastriano’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a chilling template for future races | Editorial

Even after President Biden took the oath of office, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor continued his efforts to invalidate the results.

Former President Donald Trump (left) is joined on stage by Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at a Sept. 3 rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Former President Donald Trump (left) is joined on stage by Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano at a Sept. 3 rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.Read moreMary Altaffer / AP

As Election Day approaches, voters need to know what Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano did to overturn the 2020 election and how he plans to tilt the results in future races.

Mastriano’s relentless efforts to thwart the results of the 2020 presidential election, spread Donald Trump’s election lies, and suppress votes in future elections amounts to a 10-alarm fire for anyone who believes in a functioning democracy.

Days after the 2020 election — with no evidence of fraud — Mastriano said the results should not be certified until an audit was complete. On Nov. 23, 2020, the election results in Pennsylvania were certified and showed Joe Biden won the state by 80,555 votes.

Two days later, Mastriano staged a hearing in a hotel ballroom in Gettysburg that gave Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani a platform to spread lies that the election was stolen and covered up by “Big Tech,” the courts, and the media. Trump called into the hearing and falsely claimed, “We won Pennsylvania by a lot.”

Later that same day, Mastriano traveled to Washington to meet with Trump and other Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania to discuss plans to overturn the election. But Mastriano left the meeting after he tested positive for COVID-19.

» READ MORE: From the fringes of the far right, Doug Mastriano vainly tries to dance back to the middle | Editorial

On Nov. 27, 2020, Mastriano appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast and said, “We’re going to take our power back; we’re going to seat the electors.” Sure enough, Mastriano introduced a resolution that called on the General Assembly to direct the secretary of the commonwealth to withdraw the certification of Biden’s victory and appoint new electors. The New York Times later obtained emails that said Mastriano was Trump’s “point person” in Pennsylvania for the fake elector scheme designed to overturn the election.

Mastriano also participated in a pressure campaign to get the Justice Department to investigate the election. In a Dec. 27, 2020, call to acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, Trump urged Justice Department officials to “just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.” The next day, Mastriano wrote a letter to Donoghue claiming that “election fraud is real and prevalent in Pennsylvania.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Mastriano spent thousands of dollars in campaign funds to bus more than 100 protesters to the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., that turned into a deadly insurrection. Mastriano claimed he left before the mob became violent, but photos appear to show him behind breached barricades set up by Capitol Police.

» READ MORE: With democracy at risk, some Pa. GOP leaders wisely break with one of their own | Editorial

Even after Biden was sworn in, Mastriano continued efforts to reverse the election. In June 2021, Mastriano traveled to Arizona to observe a Republican-led sham audit of the election results there, which still showed Biden won. The following month, Mastriano sent letters to Philadelphia and two other counties seeking election-related equipment and material needed “to conduct a forensic investigation” of the 2020 election.

Mastriano then turned toward trying to weaken future elections. In August 2021, he introduced a bill to replace the Pennsylvania secretary of state with a three-person panel appointed by the governor, House speaker, and Senate president. The following month, Mastriano introduced a bill to eliminate mail-in voting.

In March, Mastriano continued his attacks on Biden’s election. He sponsored a “voter integrity conference” that required attendees to sign a petition decertifying Pennsylvania’s 2020 election result.

Mastriano has promoted plans to suppress the vote in future elections. In November, he proposed legislation to eliminate “no excuse” mail-in voting. In April, Mastriano proposed a bill to ban drop boxes. In June, he pitched a plan to require voters to reregister — a move scholars say federal law prohibits.

If elected governor, Mastriano boasted about how he plans to interfere with election outcomes if he doesn’t get the results he wants. Mastriano said he would get to “appoint the secretary of state, who’s delegated from me the power to make the corrections to elections, the voting logs, and everything.” He added: “I could decertify every machine in the state with the, you know, with the stroke of a pen.”

Pennsylvania does not need election-denying conspiracy theorists deciding the outcome of elections with the stroke of a pen.