They have come from all over the country to witness the spectacle. From Georgia to Utah, Michigan to Washington, Oklahoma to Pennsylvania, Republicans, including some who were present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, have descended on Phoenix in recent days to witness the home stretch of the controversial audit of the 2020 election outcome in the most populous county in Arizona.
For Trump voters, the ongoing hand count of the 2.1 million votes cast in Maricopa County likely brings back haunting memories of election night, when the Cactus State sent forth the first shockwaves in Trump’s eventual defeat. And the state, along with Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, has remained a source of constant defiance by the Trump forces in the seven months since Joe Biden was declared the president-elect.
So, you might ask, what is the difference between an audit and a recount? The former is usually a routine part of the post-election process designed to ensure systems worked as expected, while the latter is generally performed in response to something that may have happened in a specific contest, such as a very close margin. This is something entirely different, depending on one’s perspective.
But could the result produced by the audit, widely discounted in advance of its release, do anything to alter Biden’s victory in the state — or the country?
In a word, no. It will not affect the certified outcome. For Republicans, empowered by Arizona’s GOP-led state senate, it is primarily an effort to uncover fraud and justify the tightening of voting laws going forward. The Florida-based cybersecurity company conducting the process, Cyber Ninjas, has no experience in auditing elections, though Randy Pullen, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman and acting spokesman for the audit team, tells The Hill, “Everybody who’s seen the process has been pretty surprised about how totally secure it is.”
For Democrats, this is just another attempt by Trump supporters to destroy the integrity of elections in the eyes of the American people. At least one Maricopa County official and the state Democratic Party have claimed the recount procedures violate state voting laws. And in May, Biden’s Justice Department sent a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, warning that her state’s audit may be violating federal election law.
Then there are the twin leaders of anti-Trump Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL), who are even more outspoken than the Democrats about the Arizona audit. Cheney has called it an “effort to subvert democracy.” Kinzinger quickly backed her up, tweeting “she ain’t wrong ya know … #country1st.”
The counting began in April and reportedly is nearing completion, but no release date for the results has been announced yet. Trump apparently hopes this audit will serve as a model for other states. Democrats expect it to be widely ignored.
Read more from Tim Donner.