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GOP State Senator Calls For November General Election Audit, Despite No Evidence Of Fraud

Matt Rourke
State Sen. Doug Mastriano wants to audit the November election results, but Gov. Tom Wolf has said county voting machines would be decertified by the state if they're turned over to any third party.

On today’s program: Associated Press reporter Marc Levy explains why state Sen. Doug Mastriano is calling for an Arizona-style election audit; Penn State professor Sarah Damaske discusses her new book about unemployment, and says much can be learned from the generous benefits given during the pandemic; and Troy Schooley with P3R talks about what a return to live road racing looks like ahead of the Fleet Feet Liberty Mile race.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano pushes for election audit, despite no evidence of fraud
(0:00 - 7:35)

State Sen. Doug Mastriano is pushing foran audit of Pennsylvania's 2020 November election results. The results are certified, and court cases dismissed claims of fraud, but Mastriano says an audit will resolve concerns over the election's integrity.

"These concerns, of course, are primarily stemming from Donald Trump saying the election was rigged and stolen from him," said Marc Levy, a reporter for the Associated Press who has been covering the story.

Mastriano has left a lot of questions unanswered, says Levy.

"He hasn't said how it would be funded, he hasn't said who would do all this work, and he hasn't said where all this equipment would be stored securely."

The audit originally targeted three counties: Philadelphia, Tioga and York. Mastriano sent letters to all three counties, giving them until July 31 to submit a plan to comply with the audit request.

It recently came to light that Fulton County officials allowed a uncertified third-party company, Wake TSI, to access its voting machines after state Republican lawmakers contacted them about an audit.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said the county’s voting machines are now decertified because they were inspected by this company, and Fulton County will likely need to acquire new machines ahead of November’s election.

New book on unemployment looks at unspoken hardships
(7:38 - 15:36)

The pandemic saw months of high unemployment rates as workers were sent home and businesses closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For those eligible, bolstered unemployment benefits served as a lifeline. Some of the resources available early in the pandemic, however, are now being rolled back, perhaps leaving some even worse off.

The Tolls of Uncertainty” is a new book by Pennsylvania State University associate professor Sarah Damaske. Her research found that although the system helps some, unemployment experiences vary widely.

“Everyone finds unemployment to be a difficult time in their lives, but some people have many more tools that let them go through that experience and get through it with fewer scratches and scars than others do,” says Damaske.

Damaske interviewed 100 Pennsylvania residents dealing with unemployment starting in 2013 to find out what their experience in unemployment was like. Her interviewees included parents, single people, partnered people, and all were middle or working-class individuals.

Of those people, Damaske found middle-class men were more likely to have resources like savings and severance packages that allowed them to experience fewer challenges in unemployment than working class men or women, regardless of class.

She also found that women were often expected to provide full-time childcare and perform other domestic duties when unemployed, making job searches more difficult.

Although her research largely took place before the pandemic, Damaske says the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was key in reducing the effects of unemployment, over the last year. She says those who had access to benefits like expanded unemployment money and no work-search requirements were much less likely to experience material hardship from unemployment than those who did not.

“I think that teaches us that when we are more generous, we are less likely to allow people to be thrown into poverty by unemployment,” she says.

Pittsburgh will see its first live road race since the start of the pandemic
(15:41 - 22:30)

For the first time in 20 months, live competitive running is back on streets of Pittsburgh. The Fleet Feet Liberty Mile, the fastest, shortest run, returns Friday evening at 6 p.m.

“It’s like Christmas morning here in the office this week,” says Troy Schooley, CEO of P3R, of the return to in-person racing. “Twenty months is a long time, but we’ve been able to inspire a lot of people to continue moving throughout COVID.”

P3R organizes and owns several races including the Pittsburgh Marathon and the Liberty Mile, and helps coordinate others such as The Great Race. However, the last two marathons were held virtually, as was last year’s Liberty Mile and 10 mile race.

Schooley says a record-breaking 1,300 people have signed up for Friday’s race, exceeding the previous record of 1,196 registrants. Some are even participating virtually.

Schooley says over 20% of participants registered for Friday’s race are new to P3R events, and he attributes some of that interest to people who turned to outdoor activities during the pandemic.

“I think that when people got outside at the beginning of COVID, they’re walking around their neighborhood or local parks, and that walk probably turned into a jog, and for some that jog turned into a run,” says Schooley. “They don’t need to be fast at all, we just want them out moving.”

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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