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The Arizona Fake ‘Audit’ Proves That Existing Audits Work

One of the most overlooked facts of the 2020 Election is that nearly every state conducts a post-election audit as a statutory requirement. The details vary from state-to-state, but generally include both state and local election officials.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a helpful guide [1] to each state’s specific requirements, and resources to learn more, if you are interested.

In the course of these audits, officials identify weaknesses and flaws, and pass along suspicious cases to an investigative agency to look into any criminal activity. This happens after every election. It happened in Arizona, even before the first “Cyber Ninja” stepped foot in the state. It happened in Virginia, before Amanda Chase started fundraising off the need for a so-called “forensic” audit here.

As we’ve noted in the past, the Heritage Foundation has a database of voter fraud [2] that has occurred in the past 20 years, in elections at every level. Those cases of fraud were found, investigated, and prosecuted during the standard post-election audits described by these statutes.

In addition, there were several instances of voter fraud in 2020 [3] – almost all committed by Trump supporters who believed the lie that voter fraud was easy or rampant. Those cases were found, investigated, and prosecuted starting with standard post-election audits as well.


So What Happened in Arizona?

After many delays and months of theater, the Cyber Ninjas are prepared to release the report of their fake “audit” [4]. Despite the CEO openly promoting debunked lies [5] about the 2020 election being stolen, and despite the fake audit being hyped by all sorts of conspiracy theorists in the GOP base — none bigger than the chief conspiracy theorist, Donald Trump — the handcount portion of the audit shows that 1) Joe Biden rightfully won Maricopa County and Arizona, and 2) the count was accurate.

However, this will not stop the drumbeat of conspiracy theories. Do not expect to see Amanda Chase drop her nonsensical demands anytime soon.

The audit report will also highlight what the Cyber Ninjas report are “irregularities”. The report offers absolutely nothing conclusive [6]; there is no fire, only smoke. Some of that smoke is as simple as noting that several people with the same name live in different places in the state. They will also repeat some of the already-debunked claims [7], like the “missing ballots” and “extra votes”, which require intentionally confusing how elections work in Arizona (one of the pitfalls of Cyber Ninjas having no expertise or experience with conducting election audits).

But those claims will be enough for Donald Trump to soothe his fragile, snowflake ego that he’s not a giant loser.

(As a reminder, Donald Trump has long claimed that everything that hasn’t gone his way is a result of a conspiracy against him. He claimed the 2016 election was rigged, despite winning it. He claimed the Iowa Caucus was rigged [8] after losing it to Ted Cruz. He even claimed that the Emmys are rigged [9], after not getting nominated for hosting his game show, The Apprentice.)

More importantly, those claims will be enough to keep the grift alive, and have candidates running for Republican nominations pander to the GOP base by continuing to fan the flames of conspiracy theories and lies about the 2020 election being stolen.


The Biggest Takeaway

The biggest risk of the fake Arizona audit is that observers will see that they confirmed Biden’s win, and that their clunky and shadily-conducted handcount nearly matched the overall results, and give the Cyber Ninjas and their partners in the Arizona Senate a veneer of credibility to push their false claims of irregularities.

Dear reader, the biggest takeaway is this: nearly every state conducts post-election audits, and they work.

The Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and the Republican Secretary of State of Arizona, knew that the Cyber Ninjas wouldn’t find any vote discrepancy or conclusive evidence of fraud. Why? Because they already conducted their own audit, as they were required to do by law.

We don’t need to waste time and money on bad-faith actors like the Cyber Ninjas to re-do what is already done and proven effective. We don’t need to indulge Amanda Chase’s fever dreams of a fake “forensic audit” in Virginia. We already did an audit in Virginia. It worked.

And we don’t need to stop referring to what was done in Arizona as a sham or a fake audit, because it very much remains a terrible process run by bad-faith actors, without transparency or oversight, and an expensive waste of time to boot. Just because the Cyber Ninjas confirmed what the rest of us already knew doesn’t give them – or the grifters allied with them – any more credibility to speak on the matter of election security.

There’s an election in Virginia 39 days (and a post-election audit to follow after that). Let’s focus on what’s ahead of us. And be on the lookout for grifters and liars who view pushing conspiracy theories as a meal ticket or a path to political stardom.