Security at the Tioga County Courthouse has been beefed up following threats to officials.
On Friday, July 23, Tioga County Commissioner Erick Coolidge confirmed that a Facebook post from a Lycoming County resident called the three commissioners “traitors” and said there were “plenty of trees” in a nearby gorge to “hang ropes from.” Another commissioner received a text stating “Your days are numbered.”
The threats are in response to the county’s decision not to comply with Senator Doug Mastriano’s request for Tioga County, along with Philadelphia and York counties, to voluntarily submit to a forensic audit of the November 2020 election. Mastriano, who represents Franklin County, is chair of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. The committee could issue subpoenas for the information if the majority of the committee votes to do so.
“One individual who does not have standing demanded we yield to his request or, the implication is, you are hiding something,” Coolidge said. “While we understand his intent, we stood by the law.”
A week ago, the county issued a press release confirming that it will decline to accede to Mastriano’s request. The Secretary of State told officials that county voting equipment would be decertified if it provides the requested information.
The cost to replace the equipment would be more than $1 million, plus the warranty would be voided.
The county would have to have new equipment in place by August to prepare for the fall election, in part to have time to prepare and send ballots overseas to active duty military personnel.
“All that has been done is in the best interests of Tioga County, its voters and taxpayers and following the law that governs us,” Coolidge said, adding that officials have gone as far as to locate equipment should this issue advance to a legal battle.
The situation turned into a political hot button this past week. The Wellsboro Rotary Club, of which Commissioner Roger Bunn is a member, invited him and Coolidge to provide information on the topic at the Thursday meeting.
An unknown person forwarded that information to a county resident, who rallied a group to attend the meeting to voice objections to the county’s decision. Bunn and Coolidge bowed out.
“When we realized we would be disrupting a civic-minded organization from its work, we backed out,” he said. “We were not running. We were not hiding.”
The Rotary chapter president learned of the group’s intent to attend the outdoor meeting and instead asked members to meet at an alternate location.
“The last thing I want are distractions/disruptions from groups meeting for that purpose,” he wrote.