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Audit: County Officials Took ‘Gifts’ From Voting Machine Vendors

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Officials in 18 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties reported accepting gifts, meals or trips from firms competing to sell new voting machines ahead of the 2020 elections, according to a new report by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

McKean County is not one of the counties named, but Cameron, Elk, Warren and Potter counties are. McKean County Director of Elections Dianne Gallegos told the auditor general’s office she and Director of Voter Registration Lisa Pratt traveled to Clarion and Potter counties to attend demonstrations, returned the same day, and got reimbursed by the county for mileage only.

DePasquale said Friday that accepting the gifts is wrong, even if officials took no action in return. He says the gifts included expense-paid travel to destinations including Las Vegas, tickets to a wine festival and distillery tour, dinners at high-end restaurants, tickets to an amusement park and an open bar at a conference for elections officials.

He added that he will be referring his finding to the state Ethics Commission for further review.

 

The Department of the Auditor GeneralĀ received responses from all 67 counties. The following summarizes responses from the 18 counties that reported accepting gifts from voting equipment vendors including Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Dominion Voting Systems (Dominion), Electec Election Services (Electec), and Unisyn Voting Solutions (Unisyn):

Cameron County

At a 2016 conference in State College, attended a Dominion-sponsored dinner at a local restaurant; Dominion provided transportation to a wine tour of the area and paid entry to a private tour of a local distillery; at a 2017 conference in Harrisburg, ES&S paid for transportation to and meal at a high-end restaurant; at a 2018 conference in Pittsburgh, accepted from Dominion a meal, transportation, and tour of a museum; in September 2018, ES&S held an equipment demonstration and took board of elections and staff to lunch at a restaurant; Dominion paid for lunch at another 2018 equipment demonstration; ES&S provided boxes of chocolate-covered pretzels; ES&S sometimes provides lunch at annual conferences for those who attend its luncheon meetings.

Clearfield County

Accepted dinners and lunches from ES&S and Dominion.

Elk County

Accepted lunch from ES&S on April 25, 2018, and lunch from Dominion on May 24, 2018.

Forest County

In September 2018, accepted dinner and admission to a wine festival from ES&S.

Potter County

Accepted dinners sponsored by Dominion at conferences held from 2013 through 2018.

Warren County

At the annual election officials conference, a company associated with ES&S provides a hospitality room; vendors covered a cash bar and entertainment at a 2018 conference; Dominion and ES&S have taken conference attendees to dinner one night each year since 2013; Dominion and ES&S gave presentations with coffee and doughnuts; ES&S has sent a representative to deliver items like chocolate-covered pretzels on two occasions; at a 2017 conference, ES&S paid for some elections officials to go to an amusement park, which included entrance fee, lunch and the creation of their own candy bar.

 

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