HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Republicans’ most watched attempt to examine the 2020 presidential election in a battlefield state lost by former President Donald Trump is coming to an embarrassing end in Arizona, but their efforts are failing multiply elsewhere.
The most recent is in Republican-controlled Texas, where the secretary of state’s office on Thursday said it would conduct a “full and comprehensive forensic audit” of the 2020 election in four densely populated counties.
These examinations have different names: “audits” or “investigations”, sometimes accompanied by the word “forensic”.
GOP review finds no evidence Arizona election was stolen from Trump
But their scope isn’t always well defined or understood, even by those pushing them, and critics say they really have one goal: to validate Trump’s baseless claims that widespread fraud cost him the election, regardless of what the critics might find.
None of the critics can change the fact that Joe Biden won the presidency. His victory was certified by officials in each of the swing states he won and by Congress on Jan.6 – after Trump supporters, fueled by the same bogus accusations that generated the audits, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent electoral certification.
Here’s a look at the criticisms of the Republican elections:
WHERE IS THE GOP CONTINUING THESE ELECTION EXAMINATIONS AND WHY?
Republicans have sought criticism in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – all battlegrounds lost by Trump. The latest is Texas, where Trump had a victory margin of 5.5 percentage points.
Audit efforts have at times been on a smaller scale, such as in Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta, individual counties in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and in a state legislative race in New Hampshire.
In virtually all cases, the reviews were launched under pressure from Trump and his allies to conduct an Arizona-style investigation of ballots, voting machines and voters lists looking for evidence. fraud in order to legitimize claims that have been universally refuted.
In Wisconsin, a review is conducted by the highly respected and non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau. The other, ordered by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, is headed by a retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, a conservative who told Trump supporters in November that the election was stolen.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans are retreating after counties pushed back in July on a massive demand for voting machines, ballots, computer journals and more.
A Republican-controlled Senate committee last week sent a subpoena for a wide range of election-related files to state election officials. Democrats are suing to block it.
The latest, in Texas, was brutally announced just hours after Trump issued a statement telling Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that “Texans are demanding a real audit to fully address their concerns.”
The secretary of state’s office – where a senior lawmaker previously said the 2020 election was “smooth and secure” – said it would audit four of the state’s most populous counties: three voted for Biden and the other is where Republicans are rapidly losing ground in the burgeoning Dallas suburbs.
WHY DO DEMOCRATS AND OTHER CRITICS SAY THE OPINIONS ARE FALSE?
For starters, Trump’s bogus claims about an election stolen by widespread fraud have been refuted by Republican and Democratic judges, his own Justice Department, and numerous recounts and audits.
The quests to uncover electoral fraud have so far not even closely resembled the type of audits that are widely recognized as legitimate by the professional audit community.
In Arizona, election experts cited many flaws in the review, from biased and inexperienced entrepreneurs to conspiratorial backers and bizarre and unreliable methods. Almost all of the allegations made by the review team so far have collapsed under scrutiny.
Democrats say Republicans are only perpetuating Trump’s “big lie” about baseless allegations of voter fraud. They say these claims have eroded confidence in the election and that Republicans are on a mission to seize power by removing voting rights and undermining both democracy and the election.
SHOULD IT EVEN BE CALLED “AUDITS”?
Experienced listeners say no.
This is because actual election audits follow standard procedures and are conducted by experienced professionals. In Arizona, the prime contractor, Cyber Ninjas, had no previous election auditing experience.
Proponents like to use the term “forensic” in conjunction with “audit” or “investigation”. But the term “forensic” describes the techniques used to investigate a crime. There is no evidence to support the claims of Trump and his allies, let alone evidence of a crime.
Audits should also be seen as independent. But in these cases, they’re being pushed by a political party, and in Arizona the effort was funded almost entirely by donations from Trump supporters who promoted conspiracy theories surrounding the election.
There are also security concerns regarding the granting of access to election materials.
Voting systems that pass anti-tampering tests are certified by states, which have chain of custody laws that dictate security and access to voting machines. The US Election Assistance Commission accredits laboratories to test voting machines and provides advice to states on how to maintain a chain of custody over voting systems.
WHAT DID THE ENDEDS SAY?
The audit in Arizona’s Maricopa County, pushed by Republicans in the state Senate, ended with a whimper on Friday. The six-month process ended with a report that presented no evidence to support Trump’s claim of a stolen election and ended up validating Biden’s victory in the most populous county in the country. State.
The journal had been widely criticized – even by some Republicans – as rife with bias and incompetence.
In New Hampshire, where auditors investigated discrepancies in a state legislative race at the behest of lawmakers on both sides, the audit found no evidence of fraud or bias. He concluded that counting errors in a legislative race were primarily caused by the way the mail ballots were folded.
Nonetheless, it caught the attention of Trump and his allies who were looking for ways to back up their bogus claims about the 2020 election.
In Michigan, Republican legislative leaders have resisted calls for an Arizona-style “audit”. Instead, they formed a GOP-led Senate committee that held hearings into the allegations, reviewed thousands of pages of subpoenaed documents, and produced a report that found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud. .
“Our clear conclusion is that citizens must be convinced that the results represent the true results of the votes cast by the people of Michigan,” the report concluded. “The Committee strongly recommends that citizens have a critical eye and ear for those who have pushed manifestly false theories for their own personal gain.”
It did not appease Trump. The former president continues to press lawmakers for another review.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TAXPAYERS?
In Arizona, the Republican-controlled Senate – which commissioned the “audit” and hired the prime contractor – paid out $ 150,000 in taxpayer dollars. But that was overshadowed by the leaked $ 5.7 million in July that prominent Trump supporters had raised to fund the effort.
Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, will spend $ 3 million to replace its vote-counting machines after determining they had been compromised by the Republican audit.
In Wisconsin, the budget for the audit commissioned by the Speaker of the Republican Assembly is $ 680,000 of taxpayer dollars. The New Hampshire audit cost more than $ 123,000, although the law authorizing it does not include money to pay for it.
Officials in Pennsylvania and Texas have not said how much it will cost or who will perform the audits.
Associated Press editors Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Christina A. Cassidy in Atlanta, David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, Holly Ramer in Concord, NH, and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.