Arizona's Senate Republicans had a great idea: Let's fund a sham election audit that costs state taxpayers millions, compromises ballots and voting equipment, and produces zero credible results that we can then feed to delusional Trump voters desperate to believe they're not losers. Sure, it will be needlessly expensive and laughable to everyone living in the real world, and death threats will surely fly, but who cares—Trumpers will gobble it up like ravenous vultures feasting on a rotten carcass.
That's exactly what happened at a rally last week outside Phoenix headlined by disgraced Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. According to the Associated Press, "references to the Arizona audit drew much more enthusiastic applause than even immigration, normally the top hot-button issue on the right in the border state." Gaetz also hailed Arizona's sham audit as a "launchpad" for similar efforts across the country.
He's not wrong. The issue is playing so well to Trumpers in Arizona that Trumpers and GOP lawmakers across the country are rushing to replicate it, including in a rural county in Michigan, a New Hampshire town, and—perhaps most prominently—Georgia, where multiple lawsuits claiming fraud have already been thrown out of court.
Similar to the Arizona audit, the Georgia effort targets the state's most populous county, Fulton, which includes Atlanta and helped deliver the state to Joe Biden. Last week, a judge ordered Fulton County officials to make a plan for unsealing at least 142,000 mail-in ballots that could serve as the precursor to yet another sham audit.
That legal effort was spearheaded by Garland Favorito, who the AP calls "a longtime skeptic of Georgia’s voting systems who has embraced conspiracy theories about 9/11, Clinton-era scandal and Supreme Court justices."
“Our ultimate objective is the truth," conspiracy theorist Favorito told the AP. "What is the truth of this election?”
Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts, a Democrat, has called the effort "outrageous," noting that several recounts have already been conducted. “It is outrageous that Fulton County continues to be a target of those who cannot accept the results from last year’s election," Pitts said. "The votes have been counted multiple times, including a hand recount, and no evidence of fraud has been found.”
The two parties are set to meet in court Friday in order to develop a strategy for handling the ballots.
In the meantime, some Trump backers are still railing against the state’s GOP governor Brian Kemp for failing to commission a statewide audit of the votes.
“There’s a dead cat on the end of this line, and we just want to find out what it is, that’s all,” said Trump backer and former state Rep. Vernon Jones, who is rivaling Kemp in the GOP primary. “People have a right to know. What are you hiding?”
Audits are typically a legitimate part of the democratic process. But the bogus thread tainting all these efforts is the fact that they are partisan pushes seeking certain outcomes.
The sham Maricopa County audit is being headed up by Cyber Ninjas, a partisan pro-conspiracy firm with zero audit experience that has now irretrievably compromised much of Maricopa County's election equipment. That firm's founder, Doug Logan, also has ties to the audit push in Michigan, according to the AP.
The push in Georgia is equally as spurious, fueled by a disinformation campaign that Trump and his backers focused on Fulton County in their failed bid to overturn the election results. But after several audits and a hand recount conducted by the state, it's clear that no outcome other than the one they want will satisfy Trump backers and political opportunists.
“In a healthy democracy, you have an auditing process, you have legal recourse, and when that period is over, all the candidates who have won take over and you move on,” said Tammy Patrick, an adviser at The Democracy Fund who also used to run post-election audits in Maricopa County.
“They are not going to be satisfied,” Patrick told the AP. “This is just going to play out in perpetuity.”