In a Nov. 22 editorial, The New York Times celebrated just how smoothly the Nov. 3 election went.
“The 2020 election was not simply free of fraud, or whatever cooked-up malfeasance the president is braying about at this hour,” the editorial board said.
“It was, from an administrative standpoint, a resounding success. In the face of a raging pandemic and the highest turnout in more than a century, Americans enjoyed one of the most secure, most accurate and most well-run elections ever.”
Secure! Accurate! Well-run! Just don’t ask to take a second look at how it was run, else you’re one of those cranks braying about malfeasance.
Among those cranks, apparently, are the members of the Arizona state Senate Judiciary Committee, who’ve asked for an audit of Maricopa County’s voting machines and ballots. In fact, they’ve issued subpoenas to that effect, which is a bit more than asking; the state Senate wants to look at the voting machines that were used in the Nov. 3 election as well as images of scanned ballots.
Maricopa County, meanwhile, is saying no thanks.
“The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors did not send the state Senate election materials in response to subpoenas before a 5 p.m. deadline Friday,” the Arizona Republic reported Friday.
“Instead, the supervisors voted 4-1 on Friday to file a court complaint in response, after raising concerns that the state Legislature’s demands are too broad and violate voters’ privacy. Supervisor Steve Chucri cast the opposing vote.
“The complaint, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Friday, says the subpoenas are unlawful and asks the court to quash them.”
The county gave three reasons in the complaint: The Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t have the authority to issue the subpoenas, there wasn’t sufficient time to comply with them and they violated Arizona’s ballot secrecy laws.
Now, let’s be clear before we get this ball rolling: There’s almost certainly zero chance this changes any electoral results.
Even though Maricopa County is Arizona’s most populous — after all, it’s home to Phoenix and its suburbs — erasing Joe Biden’s razor-thin 0.3 percentage point win in the state would do little aside from switch 11 electoral votes. Given the national electoral vote, that and $44.99 will get your kid their very own Squeakee the Balloon Dog under the tree this Christmas.
Meanwhile, Democrat Mark Kelly’s win over GOP Sen. Martha McSally wasn’t quite so razor thin; the former astronaut and gun-grabber extraordinaire won by 2.4 points over McSally.
However, the refusal to even look at the accuracy of the vote tallies in Maricopa County, particularly as Republicans have said there were widespread irregularities in the most unusual election in the past century, raises serious questions.
Republicans in the state Senate have argued that an independent audit of the results is needed. However, Maricopa County says its routine audit ended with a 100 percent match, so nothing to see here. The county won’t even release ballot images for inspection, which means we’re going to have to take their word for it.
And it’s not even that Senate Republicans are suggesting, at this point, that looking at Maricopa County’s voting machines would overturn the results of the election.
“The goal is to verify the machines did what they are supposed to do,” GOP Senate President Karen Fann said, according to the Arizona Republic.
“I believe that the county has done the very best they can,” said Republican state Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to The Associated Press.
“That doesn’t mean that there aren’t anomalies, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns and it doesn’t mean that the voters aren’t justified in wanting to make sure it was done properly.”
Dr. Kelli Ward, head of the Arizona Republican Party, meanwhile, said that “the county agreed in open court to audit more ballots but it simply decided not to finish doing so.”
There is absolutely nothing in the lawsuit (Ward v. Jackson, et al.) that prevents the county from auditing/inspecting ballots. In fact, it’s the opposite – as part of the lawsuit, the county agreed in open court to audit more ballots but it simply decided not to finish doing so.
— Dr. Kelli Ward 🇺🇸 (@kelliwardaz) December 18, 2020
The Arizona Republic — normally not a phalange of the liberal media but a solidly pro-Biden organ during this cycle — has meanwhile said that the requests for audits are an attempt by lawmakers “to rally their base by insisting fraud occurred.”
They’re hardly the only ones framing the issue this way, either — and that’s a rubbish take for several reasons.
Yes, there are some Republicans who have concerns about voter fraud. It’s a pretty useless way to “rally the base” by requesting an audit when that audit turns up nothing, however. It’s like a minor-key version of the letdown Democrats felt right after the Mueller report gave them a solid zero-point-zero on the collusion meter.
And yet, Democrats act as if any further examination of the 2020 election would be an insult to democracy.
After Arizona’s electors cast their votes for Biden on Monday, Democratic state Sen. Martin Quezada said “the election that we just had, and the 11 electoral votes that were just cast earlier this morning, were legit,” according to the AP. “They were completely and totally legit. Nobody is hiding anything.”
All right. Then Maricopa County should respond to the subpoenas. Simple as that. If there’s nothing to see in an independent audit, then there’s nothing to be lost by turning the materials over.
There is something to be lost, however, by simply ignoring the order. Farnsworth made it clear an audit would help in “restoring the confidence” in the system after a divisive election, according to the Washington Examiner.
This isn’t a far-reaching effort to try and overturn the results, either: “One subpoena calls for a scanned ballot audit, to collect an electronic ballot image cast for all mail-in ballots counted in the November 2020 general election in Maricopa County, Arizona. The second subpoena calls for a full forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment, the software for that equipment and the election management system used in the 2020 general election,” Fann said.
If this is a problem, the question becomes why it’s a problem. If there’s nothing to be found, then let us find nothing.
Keeping the guts of our electoral machinery behind a curtain and insisting that anyone who wants a longer peek is a conspiracy theorist further erodes our trust in a weather-worn and battered system which has resisted transparency at every turn.
If this was — as The New York Times claimed — “one of the most secure, most accurate and most well-run elections ever,” show the rest of us skeptics.
Prove us wrong. Laugh in our face, Maricopa County. The state Senate is giving you the perfect opportunity, after all.
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