A voter wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus, steps from the voting booth after casting a ballot at a polling place in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Election 2021 Pennsylvania
A voter wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus, steps from the voting booth after casting a ballot at a polling place in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A Commonwealth Court judge said that Fulton County must work out an agreed-upon set of rules for an inspection of voting machines used in the 2020 election.

HARRISBURG — Republican lawmakers aiming to expand what they call a “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 election into a new frontier of inspecting voting machines must wait until next month, a judge decided Tuesday.

After a telephone conference, Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt sided with a lawyer for Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and said that Fulton County must first work out an agreed-upon set of rules for an inspection.

Leavitt gave them until Jan. 10, at the suggestion of a lawyer representing Wolf’s top election official in a separate lawsuit involving Fulton County’s voting machines. 

In that lawsuit, Fulton County is contesting the state’s decertification of voting machines it used in last year’s presidential election.

State lawyers last week discovered that Fulton County commissioners had voted to allow a contractor hired by Senate Republicans to download data and software on the voting systems. The exchange had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Wolf’s administration objected in court, saying such access by an inexperienced person who is not federally accredited to inspect voting systems posed a risk of damaging or altering their software or data.

A lawyer representing Fulton County, Tom King, has said that the Republican senator in charge of the “forensic investigation” wants to determine if the county’s voting system — provided by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems — was the same equipment as was certified by the state of Pennsylvania for use in last year’s election.

Republican lawmakers have pursued the undertaking as former President Donald Trump and his allies go state-to-state pushing for investigations to validate baseless conspiracy theories that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden because of election fraud.

Fulton County’s two Republican commissioners have expressed solidarity with Republican senators who later sought to block Pennsylvania’s electoral votes from being cast for Biden.