Voting rights experts “raising alarms” over the process, saying “there’s no audit or even recount process that looks like this”
A new on-the-ground report from The Guardian lays out the “dangerous” so-called “audit” underway in Maricopa County, Arizona being led by conspiracy theorists and insurrectionists as part of their attempts to overturn the certified results of the last election and continue pushing the Big Lie. This GOP-backed “audit” singling out a heavily Democratic county with large numbers of voters of color already has elections experts “raising alarms” over inconsistencies and a process that “wouldn’t tell the auditors anything.”
As the Washington Post previously reported, “More than five months after the 2020 presidential election, and after numerous failed attempts to overturn the results, former president Donald Trump has seized on a new avenue to try to call the outcome into question: a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots cast in Arizona’s largest county.” This “audit” is not supported by or conducted by state or county election officials, who have already done their job to fairly count, audit, and certify the election results. Arizona’s Electoral Votes were properly cast for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris more than four months ago — and nothing under Arizona law at the time authorized this so-called “audit.”
According to The Guardian’s reporting, the “audit” process has also already raised serious red flags with elections experts. One expert noted that the “so-called forensic analysis” conducted on ballots “[doesn’t] tell you anything about a ballot’s authenticity.” Another expert “expressed concern” over “consistency” issues and a lack of quality control with the recount process, noting “there’s no audit or even recount process that looks like this.” Moreover, the “audit” has lacked even a modicum of transparency; press were initially blocked from observing the “audit.”
And as Arizona Republicans continue with their flawed “audit,” they are also rushing ahead with new anti-voter legislation to restrict access to the ballot box as part of a nationwide GOP-led attack on voting rights in response to the Big Lie surrounding the 2020 election. This week, Republicans in the state legislature passed and Governor Doug Ducey immediately signed SB 1485, a devastating anti-voter bill which could remove over 125,000 voters from Arizona’s highly popular Permanent Early Voting List—including over 30,000 Latino voters.
Read more about the “dangerous” so-called recount process underway in Arizona:
The Guardian: Why the Arizona ‘recount’ of 2.1m votes is dangerous
By now, you’ve probably heard about the unprecedented effort to recount 2.1m votes in Arizona and all of the wacky conspiracy theories—including searching for bamboo fibers in ballots—that the effort seems to be amplifying.
Election administration experts—who usually go out of their way to be non-partisan—have raised alarms about the process.
As [elections observer Jennifer Morrell] talked on the phone last week, I could tell from her voice that what she was seeing in the Arizona recount really bothered her.
“There’s nobody verifying that what they entered was correct. There’s no reading out. These are things that you would typically see in an election office whether they were doing an audit, recount, where you want some sort of quality control mechanism in place,” she said.
Morrell also expressed concern with the procedures in place to keep a baseline count of the ballots being handled across the audit. If a box of ballots says it has a certain amount of ballots in it, workers should count when they open the box to make sure that there’s actually that amount of ballots in there. And when ballots leave each station, they should also ensure that all of the ballots are accounted for. Not every station in the audit is doing that.
“It’s the consistency that’s an issue for me,” she said. “There’s no audit or even recount process that looks like this.”
Jovan Pulitzer, a failed inventor and conspiracy theorist, is reportedly helping auditors with [a so-called forensic analysis]. He purports to have developed technology that can detect fraudulent ballots by looking for folds in the paper, as well as analyzing whether the ballots were marked by a human or a machine, the latter of which is, in his view, suspicious.
Adrian Fontes, the former Maricopa county recorder who oversaw the 2020 election, said this process wouldn’t tell the auditors anything. If ballots arrive at an election office damaged, he said, they are duplicated electronically and then printed out with machine-made marks. This isn’t a sign of fraud—it’s a sign the process is working.
Tammy Patrick, a former Maricopa county election official who now works with election administrators across the country as a senior adviser at the Democracy Fund, also noted that folds in a ballot don’t tell you anything about a ballot’s authenticity.
“They are taking advantage of the lack of information that the public has regarding the complexities of our system. And they’re creating a false narrative, and they’re setting themselves up to sell that false narrative.” Fontes told me. “I’m afraid they’re going to come out and say ‘oh we found pre-printed ballots’ and there aren’t going to be enough people who stand up and say ‘well no shit.’”