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Arizona GOP’s “audit” favors Biden

     After spending $5.7 million of mostly-private money (Arizona taxpayers involuntarily contributed $150,000) on a highly partisan, non-binding “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results, a leaked draft report appears to explode the GOP’s election fraud myths, because its tallies are “nearly identical to what the county had previously reported” in its official results. (Read story here.) (Note: The $5.7 million figure doesn’t include $2.8 million that Maricopa County has to spend to replace voting equipment compromised by the “audit’s” sloppy handling procedures.)

     If so, the honesty of the GOP’s “audit” results is surprising, given that the Republican state senators who commissioned this witch hunt spurned legitimate election contractors and instead hired a pro-Trump promoter of false election conspiracy theories. But “local officials said it also contained many faulty conclusions that could fulfill its ultimate aim [of] sowing distrust in the US election system,” an updated CNN story (read it here) reported before the “audit” report was released.

     After it was released and analyzed, The Hill concluded “human error was present in its hand count,” because numbers that should have matched didn’t, and also accused the “auditors” of putting out “made-for-TV misleading” data (read story here). The Hill noted the “audit” did fail to provide any support for several conspiracy theories that had swirled around the Arizona election (details in their article).

     Maricopa County, with 2.1 million voters, accounts for roughly two-thirds of the state’s total ballots, so this wasn’t much less than a statewide recount. Biden won Arizona by 10,727 votes, and carried Maricopa County by about 45,000. People familiar with elections know that statewide recounts rarely change the results by more than a couple hundred votes. The official Arizona results, which gave Biden a lead of about 0.3%, were within the margin most states require to allow a recount, though, which typically is 0.5% or 1.0%.

     The draft report reportedly says the “audit” came up with 99 more Biden votes and 261 fewer Trump votes than the official tally that awarded Arizona’s 11 electoral votes to Biden. Those are almost certainly counting errors by the GOP’s “audit,” whose sloppy procedures led election experts to dismiss the “audit” as “not credible.” As for the conflict of numbers, minor as it is, the official tally should be taken as more accurate.

     In any case, the GOP’s “audit” would have changed nothing; it has no legal status, and even the Republicans who commissioned it acknowledged it could not alter the certified results. There’s no legal authority or process for that. But by coming up with the results it did, it undermines the GOP’s “stolen election” claims, and could do major harm to Trump and his allies, who “have pointed to the Arizona review as crucial in their continuing effort to challenge the 2020 election results.”
      That challenge, of course, only serves to stoke the MAGA crowd who have wanted to believe the “stolen election” myth. Their dreams of “reinstating” Trump in the White House were never more than fantasy. But now they apparently have their own party’s efforts to discredit the election confirming it instead, and proving they’ve been misled. A Phoenix TV station called the results “a rebuke to the Republican voters, politicians and former president who contended, without any evidence, that Biden stole the election from Trump” (see story here).
     The responsible thing for Karen Fann and the other state senators who pushed for this “audit” to do now is swallow their pride, acknowledge the official results were legitimate, and back off from trying to further undermine public trust in our elections. We’ll see.
     Related story: The expensive, private, unofficial, partisan, sloppy, non-credible election “audit” in Arizona was an embarrassing failure. The state senator who instigated it is calling for more of them, all over the country. Read story here.
     Related stories: Pressured by Trump, Texas GOP Gov. Abbott is going ahead with “audits” in four of that state’s most populous counties (story here). He invoked authority vested in the Texas secretary of state’s office, but that office is vacant because the officeholder was fired for bungling a voter purge (see story here); meanwhile, local election officials are being kept in the dark about how the “audit” will be conducted (story here).

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