WASHINGTON ― Seven Republican senators objected to Pennsylvania’s electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021 over baseless claims of fraud involving mail-in voting. Those senators are now taking a much different approach to absentee ballots when it comes to Pennsylvania’s closely contested GOP Senate primary.
The race between Mehmet Oz, the Donald Trump-backed TV doctor, and David McCormick, the former hedge fund executive, is still too close to call. McCormick’s campaign on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to ensure mail-in ballots that lack a required handwritten date are counted in hopes of closing the gap with Oz. The Republican National Committee intervened against that effort, siding with Oz on the matter. It’s likely to head to a recount no matter what happens.
So far Republicans haven’t made any allegations of voter fraud involving mail-in ballots, a tactic they’ve employed often in general elections against Democrats.
“I’ve not. Nobody’s brought that up to me,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, when asked if he’s seen any reports of irregularities.
“I don’t know if there are problems. I know it’s so close that’s probably one of the reasons they had to get the mail-in ballots,” added Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).
Both senators voted to throw out Pennsylvania’s 2020 electoral vote over false claims of fraud when former President Donald Trump scored the bulk of in-person votes on Election Day, but President Joe Biden won the mail-in vote, which wasn’t counted until days later. Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow for early counting of absentee ballots, contributing to the lopsided tabulations.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), another GOP senator who voted to throw out Pennsylvania’s 2020 electoral votes, reiterated on Tuesday his concerns with mail-in ballot voting. But when asked if he’s seen any fraud in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Cruz said he wasn’t “aware of any specific issues.”
Cruz endorsed and campaigned for McCormick in the closing days of the race. However, he didn’t appear bothered by McCormick’s legal effort to ensure undated mail-in ballots are counted, something the RNC claimed would harm the integrity of the election process.
“I’m confident the courts will work out the issue,” Cruz said.
Even Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), the first GOP senator to announce his plans to object to the 2020 electoral vote, didn’t seem to want to go there on Tuesday.
When asked if he saw any reason to suspect fraud in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Hawley deferred to McCormick. “Is he alleging fraud?” Hawley asked.
McCormick is not alleging that voter fraud took place in his race. Earlier this year, he expressed concern about the 2020 presidential election results, saying that a majority of Republican voters do not believe Biden won.
One day after the 2020 election, Trump and his allies accused Democrats of trying to steal the election and sought to stop Pennsylvania’s continuing tally of absentee ballots as they overcame his lead over Biden.
Trump ― a potential 2024 presidential candidate ― is now calling for an end to all voting by mail, including absentee and all early in-person voting. He said he wants only “SAME DAY VOTING.”
Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.