Republican response to absurd Arizona recount highlights threat to democracy


IT WAS ASSUMED to be the beginning of the glorious restoration. At the behest of Donald Trump, who failed to come to terms with his electoral defeat, Arizona Republicans announced an unprecedented “audit” of millions of ballots cast in 2020, with the aim of exposing the presumed enormity of the vote in favor of the Democrats. -rigging. Its results would prove massive fraud, the president promised. It would be the first domino to fall, the QNon-aligned party conspirators have promised. The reality was a bummer, but it seems to have had no effect on the Republicans’ story of voter fraud.

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The Republican-led state senate kicked off the audit by citing 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, the state’s largest city. He outsourced the logistics to a company called the Cyber ​​Ninjas with no previous election auditing experience and led by a fan of Mr. Trump’s “stop the fly” movement. The majority of the $ 6 million raised for the count, which took place in a cavernous convention hall in Phoenix, was raised privately by ardent supporters. Republican lawmakers from other states Mr. Trump narrowly lost, such as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, have surrendered and returned inspired to launch similar efforts. As the effort stretched months beyond its intended conclusion, the time for Trump’s promised presidential restoration has drifted, like the kidnapping, past its promised August 13 date. On September 24, his findings were finally presented to the State Senate.

They were disappointing. The Cyber ​​Ninjas were unable to detect the avalanche of fraud Mr. Trump had promised. In fact, their final verdict was that Mr. Biden’s margin of victory was very slightly above that officially certified. This troublesome conclusion was buried in a three-volume report largely devoted to raising doubts about the legitimacy of the election. For example, he suggests that 10,000 voters may have voted in other counties. A more mundane explanation is that in a state of 7 million people, a small number will have identical names and birth years.

Yet Mr. Trump was not chastened in the least by the results. Instead, he ignored the findings and declared it a complete victory. “We won Arizona’s forensic audit yesterday to a level you wouldn’t believe,” he said at a rally in Georgia (where he also berated the sitting Republican governor for his refusal to help him reverse his loss in that state.). Mr Trump falsely claimed the results called for his loss in Arizona to be decertified. Its most ardent devotees have not given much thought to why such a motivated exercise could still prove to be unsuccessful. Mark Finchem, a conspiratorial-minded Arizona Republican and candidate for the state’s chief electoral officer, reiterated his call for decertification, demanding the arrest of election officials who he says have falsified the results and pleaded for a subsequent audit in Pima County. (home in Tucson, the second largest city in the state).

Meanwhile, the Republican quest to delegitimize elections in the name of maintaining their integrity continues. Efforts in other states to conduct similar audits have not been suspended. Their numbers increased when, apparently in response to Mr. Trump’s requests on September 23 for more audits, the Texas Secretary of State’s office, which oversees the election, announced its own “comprehensive forensic audit.” in four major counties.

The aftermath of the failed Arizona audit illustrates just how close a state is in which one of the country’s two major parties is found, still under Mr. Trump’s spell and still with a lukewarm commitment to the people. basic democratic processes. The fraud of the effort to “stop the theft” was apparent from the start. Mr. Trump’s campaign claims of a widespread electoral fraud conspiracy have been mocked in most federal courtrooms. Yet Arizona’s new audit humiliation doesn’t change anything for “the president” (a title he and his cronies still insist on using). Rather than disowning the most serious threat to modern American democracy, most Republican elected officials are still unable to denounce it. There was no serious calculation within the party, even after an angry mob spurred by its beloved leader’s plots stormed the Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to overthrow a legitimate election.

Rather, a lot of energy has been focused on purging Mr. Trump’s criticism: Liz Cheney has been kicked out of the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives for her continued criticism. The ten Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for his actions on Jan.6 all face major challengers the ex-president concocted. Few people seem likely to stay in power after the next election in November 2022. Mr. Trump’s toxic legacy – of violating the essential democratic standard that losers should concede and fooling voters into believing the other camp cheats and steals elections – shows no signs of coming to an end.â– 

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This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Always Stop Theft”

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