Maricopa Audit Hijinks

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An election worker holds ballots at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC)vin Phoenix, Ariz., November 9, 2020. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

I am very sympathetic to observations that the ongoing election “audit” in Maricopa County, Ariz., is an embarrassing clown show, of the kind that Republicans would be blowing a collective gasket over had Democrats tried such a thing. The county and state government are controlled by Republicans; they certified and audited the vote, confirming that Biden won. The so-called audit orchestrated by state senate Republicans (egged on by the Trump-fanatical state GOP organization) is being conducted, without adequate bipartisan supervision, by Cyber Ninjas, an organization with no experience in audits, led by a 2020 election conspiracy theorist. (See this NR column by Stephen Richer, the elected Republican recorder for Maricopa County.)

All that said, though, why is it necessary for taxpayers to be on the hook for millions of dollars to replace the Dominion voting machines examined in the audit?

As our Brittany Bernstein reports, that is what the county has announced it plans to do. It cites “security” concerns, under prompting by the state’s Democratic attorney general, Katie Hobbs, who has threatened to decommission the machines.

If the machines have been found by reliable testing to be corrupted, that is something we should be told. Not only would it be a valid reason to replace the machines; it would provide valuable information about the ongoing audit’s quality, or lack thereof.

On the other hand, when the Trump legal team made outlandish claims about manipulation of Dominion voting machines in various states (such that ballots cast for Trump were said to have been altered by sinister algorithms and counted as Biden votes), we were told that the machines had been subjected to careful examination and that no evidence of corruption had been found. If that is true, as I assume it is, then it should be a simple matter to determine whether the Maricopa machinery has been corrupted by Cyber Ninjas.

If the same examination methods are used, and there is no evidence that the machines are unreliable due to some sort of tampering, why shouldn’t they be used again? According to Stephen Richer, the aforementioned county recorder, the expensive machines have a long history of being unfailingly reliable.

Arizona taxpayers should not have to shell out a fortune for no better reason than to make a political point that is already obvious: the Maricopa “recount” is ludicrous.

If the state examines the machines and finds that Cyber Ninjas has rigged or damaged them, the machines should not only be replaced; there should also be a criminal investigation. If, however, the machines are examined and show no evidence of corruption, what sense does it make to decommission them? Doing so would disserve the objective promoting confidence in elections. If the state says machines need to be replaced even though examination shows they haven’t been tampered with, Trump 2020 dead-enders would use that to bolster their claim that post-election examinations did not disprove manipulation of the Dominion machines.