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Discredited Maricopa County, Arizona election "audit"

Screenshot from azaudit.org

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's been three weeks since the Arizona "audit"—a process that involved the most partisan of Trump partisans searching for "bamboo ballots" and the ghostly fingerprints of Hugo Chavez, under the supervision of a firm created expressly to bolster conspiracy theories—apparently came to a close. That is, the audit farce is still officially underway, but three weeks ago Cyber Ninjas tweeted out an announcement that they were done pretending to count ballots, and had moved onto the most critical part of the process: terminal whining.

As CBS News reports, Cyber Ninjas is now complaining that they "don't have enough information" to complete the audit. Because getting to finger every single ballot, take control of the voting machines (which will now be discarded after the auditors did who knows what to them), and initiating a plan to go door-to-door asking people how they voted just isn't enough. As has happened several times in the process, the Ninjas, along with supporters in the Arizona Senate, are directing fingers at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors—the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors—for failing to "cooperate" enough in an audit where they've turned over every ballot, every machine, and every scrap of paper related to the election. That's not enough, say the Ninjas. They want … well, it might be easier to say what they don't want.

Until they get everything on their unreasonable list, and whatever unreasonable list comes after this, the "auditors" insist that they are not going to issue a report. Since July 2, all the ballots, machines, and accoutrements of Ninjaing have been parked at an unairconditioned building on the Arizona state fairgrounds. It's unclear whether anyone is actually working there.

And on Friday afternoon, the Associated Press made it clear why this is so: Arizona's county election officials have also been going through the ballots, not just for Maricopa, but for every county. And what they've found knocks the sword right out of the Ninja's hands.

After looking through more than three million ballots from the 2020 election, 182 cases turned up that were confusing enough that they were referred for further review. Four of these cases have led to actual charges of voter fraud. None of them involve someone voting more than once—though several of the cases involve people who tried to vote more than once and were stopped. These numbers are exactly in line with would be expected in any election, and show absolutely nothing special about what happened in Arizona, no matter what the county.

If all 182 cases involved an incidence in which a Trump vote was switched to Biden—and there's no evidence that's the result of any of these cases—Joe Biden would still have won the state by 10,218 votes. Of the four cases charged, two involved Democrats and two involved Republicans.

As for Maricopa County, the actual election supervisors identified one case of potential voter fraud. That case involves a voter who might have also been registered to vote in another state, The case has been sent to the state attorney general for investigation.

Not only do the 182 cases show that large scale vote fraud is non-existent, they show just how good the system is at stopping even small-scale cheaters. People who tried to vote in multiple districts were stopped. People who tried to vote remotely as well as in-person got just one vote. People who tried to cast mail-in ballots for dead relatives were caught. Even cases that were unclear—like the voter who could have potentially voted in another state—were flagged and investigated.

The detail and exactness with which all these cases were handled shows just how impossible it is that voter fraud on the scale claimed by Trump and his supporters could have occurred. The system immediately flagged one woman who tried to cast a ballot for her recently deceased mother, so how possible is it that the 74,000 ballots that Cyber Ninnies are insisting demand a door-to-door reckoning might have a genuine issue?

The actual review by actual officials showed that the two things most cited by Trump supporters—false mail in ballots and votes "from dead people"—are rare, easily detected, and mostly stopped before they could have even a tiny effect on Election Day results.

None of this gives Trump what he wants, of course. So, just as in Georgia, where Trump readily attacked Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger when they failed to produce the numbers he wanted, the Arizona Ninnies have fallen back on the claim that "The main reason the forensic audit is taking 2.5 months is because Maricopa County Supervisors and Recorder have obstructed the audit and refused to cooperate." That was half a month ago. Now they're simply at the point where they claim they can't go forward with vote counting because they've examined every ballot. They need more.

In the end, it's clear the Maricopa "audit" won't have an end. It is designed never to end. Which is fine. Because it was never about finding any evidence of real fraud. It was only ever about giving Trump justification for his claims, and eternal victimhood suits that purpose perfectly.

So the Arizona audit will just remain open eternally, acting as a north star that will unfailing attract Trump's orange finger when he's pointing out "campaign fraud."

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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