There has been a lot of bellyaching by Democrats and media personalities about the election audit currently underway in Arizona.
But liberals should actually be supportive of the undertaking in light of the results of a post-election ballot review in Florida following the hotly contested 2000 presidential election.
The controversy surrounding the race between Republican candidate George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore is a distant memory now, but emotions ran high then. The overall winner of the Electoral College hinged on who won Florida.
What finally put the issue to rest for many people was a recount/audit, spearheaded by a media consortium — read group with a liberal bent, inclined to believe Gore won — conducted in the spring of 2001 after Bush took office.
As a reminder, what stirred Democrats’ ire in the race results was that the U.S. Supreme Court had stepped in to overrule the Florida Supreme Court’s order calling for a manual recount of certain contested and under-voted ballots in which no presidential preference was read by the voting machines.
In a 7-2 decision, SCOTUS found implementing the Florida high court’s plan would have violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, due to different standards being applied from county to county in what votes were counted.
The justices differed as to the proper remedy, with five determining a recount that passed constitutional muster could not be fashioned to meet the Electoral College certification time window, while four believed that it could.
The majority decided the Florida secretary of state’s certified tally of Bush winning the Sunshine State by 537 votes would stand.
So the media consortium gained access to the ballots and commissioned an accounting firm to oversee a recount after Bush took office in January 2001.
In April of that year, PBS News reported, “In the first full study of Florida’s ballots since the election ended, The Miami Herald and USA Today reported George W. Bush would have widened his 537-vote victory to a 1,665-vote margin if the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court would have been allowed to continue, using standards that would have allowed even faintly dimpled ‘undervotes’ — ballots the voter has noticeably indented but had not punched all the way through — to be counted.”
“The study, conducted by the accounting firm of BDO Seidman, counted over 60,000 votes in Florida’s 67 counties, tabulating separate vote totals in several standards categories.”
PBS further noted if the most generous standards of what ballots to count had been adopted statewide, beyond what the Florida Supreme Court had called for, Gore would have won by 393 votes.
Of course, state legislatures set the standards regarding what ballots should be counted to uphold the integrity of the vote, i.e. to not allow legitimately cast ballots to be diluted by unlawful ones.
Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in a concurring opinion joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, had argued the Florida Supreme Court’s scheme for the recount was unconstitutional because it had usurped the state legislature’s authority, under Article II, Section 1, Clause 2.
Regardless, the main takeaway from the recount is that Bush still would have won whether the U.S. Supreme Court had stepped in or not.
Fast forward to 2020. Once again, there were many court challenges following November’s election, with emotions running high.
This time it was the Republicans rather than the Democrats questioning the legitimacy of the outcome, notably in key swing states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan.
There had been late changes to election procedures directed by the executive branch officials and courts, but not approved by the state legislatures.
Additionally, the notorious Dominion Voting Systems machines used in these states proved to be problematic (whether by human error or otherwise) in terms of accuracy, by thousands of votes, when hand recounts were conducted in Georgia and on a small scale in Michigan.
Much like 2000, court rulings from the Supreme Court and otherwise left questions out there in the minds of many people.
The Arizona Senate decided it wanted some answers, so in December, it subpoenaed the ballots and voting machines from Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county encompassing the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Despite Biden’s victory, Republicans carried every countywide office in Maricopa, save for sheriff (which an incumbent Democrat held), including flipping the county recorder and winning the open treasurer seat.
After multiple legal challenges, including by the Arizona Democratic Party, the Senate prevailed and the audit by independent firms began on April 23.
According to a news release from the Arizona Senate Republicans in late March, the audit would include scanning all 2.1 million paper ballots cast to look for irregularities, conducting a full manual recount, investigating the registration rolls to ensure only eligible voters voted and performing a forensic audit of the electronic voting machines and systems used.
Rather than embrace the undertaking, Arizona Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has done all she can to seek to discredit it.
The secretary’s Twitter feed is filled with disparagements about the #fraudit and the like.
“It is simply designed to continue promoting the big lie that the election in 2020 was stolen,” Hobbs told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace.
“We know that that is not the case,” the secretary of state continued. “We know that this was the most secure and historically participated-in election that we’ve had.”
If the election was as secure as she claims, Hobbs should have no issue with the audit, which has observers from both parties, the media and her own office.
Nonetheless, the Brennan Center and other liberal groups are calling on the Department of Justice to intervene in the audit by sending federal monitors.
Why are the Democrats so dead set against the audit?
In the spring of 2001, an election review put to rest many of the concerns people had and strengthened Bush’s standing as the rightful winner of the presidency.
Biden can be the beneficiary this time around.
Given the confidence that election officials in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin have voiced regarding the security and accuracy of their election results, the 46th president should have nothing to worry about. Right?
All voters want is the assurance that the election was fair and accurate.
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