It will do neither of these things. No good can come of it, and it should end.
There is no function of government more critical to our republic than ensuring fair elections. As an attorney, I have led and worked on election integrity efforts in five different states, on behalf of Republican governors, members of Congress and parties. I prosecuted the first conviction for multiple voting in Arizona history to reach our court of appeals.
I know the stakes involved with election fraud. I am a proud Republican. I have and will continue to support efforts to increase the fairness of elections. This Arizona audit is not one of them.
There is no reason to question Arizona’s election results. Representatives from all parties were welcome to observe every step of the process, from the machine testing in October (and retesting in November), to the operating of polling places on Election Day, to the bipartisan counting of ballots. As required by law, a sample of 8,100 ballots were hand-counted and compared with the machine totals. There was a 100 percent match.
It was a good year for Republicans in Maricopa County. Excepting a sheriff reelected over lackluster opposition, we won every countywide election while maintaining our 4-to-1 majority on the county board of supervisors. President Biden carried the county by more than 45,100 votes.
The Maricopa County board, despite no evidence of an unjust result, responded to public questioning of the election by performing additional audits. Two companies, SLI Compliance and Pro V&V, are certified by the bipartisan Election Assistance Commission to test election machines and software. Maricopa County hired both to run every conceivable test for fraud or errors. They found none.
Anyone qualified to vote can challenge an election in court. So why didn’t proponents of the state Senate’s audit do so? Republican governors have appointed every judge in Arizona since January 2009, and every member of our highest court, where litigants are entitled to appeal every election challenge.
Senate President Karen Fann (R) had no place to put them. Despite sending out subpoenas in December and fighting with the county for months and in court, it took more than a month for the Senate to secure the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, ancestral home of the Phoenix Suns, as headquarters for its audit.
On March 31, Fann announced the effort would be led by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida cybersecurity company with no experience in elections. Its owner, Doug Logan, had retweeted claims that the presidential election had been stolen through fraud.
Reporters were initially banned from the Coliseum, then given restricted access, and as of now can watch from the balcony, with many using binoculars. They are not allowed to take photographs or notes.
Auditors refused to say whether the vote counting would be bipartisan. In the next phase, they plan to canvass precincts by questioning voters at their doors. Beyond the $150,000 the Senate allocated for Cyber Ninjas, it is unclear who is funding the audit. One America News, which has promoted baseless allegations of election fraud, is publicly raising money for the audit and has been granted exclusive access to live-stream.
The audit has been going as well as you might expect. The Arizona Republic’s Jen Fifield, who has observed the process, pointed out that blue pens were being used to mark ballots. As the machines can read blue pens, only red pens are allowed near ballots. Logan and Ken Bennett, a volunteer spokesman for the Senate, have given contradicting statements about whether machines would be used at any point in the count.
How could anyone expect a partisan process to yield a result more accurate and trusted than the one administered by professionals of all parties following established rules? If you’re a Republican who supports this audit, ask yourself this: If the Democrats had lost, how would you feel if this was their response?