As the list of local Republicans speaking out against the election audit in Arizona continues to grow, the state’s Republican party continues to push The Big Lie, joining Trump and others as they wade into authoritarianism 

The audit has been described as “political theater” and a “sham” by Republican leaders in Maricopa County, where the ballot review is taking place 

Accountable.US: “This is bigger than a difference of opinion or a partisan fight between Republicans and Democrats: it’s increasingly becoming a fight between democracy itself and authoritarianism”

Washington, D.C. — Many local Arizona Republicans have been distancing themselves from the ongoing “audit” of Maricopa County ballots as the state Republican party continues to perpetuate Trump’s Big Lie in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 Election. With the state Senate controlled by Republicans devoted to selling out Arizonans for the former president, four Republican officials on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors signed on to a letter calling the audit “political theater” and a “sham” that has turned Arizona into a “laughingstock” and is “encouraging [Arizona] citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.

“Arizona Republicans are laying the groundwork to rig future elections in their favor that will have implications not just in Arizona but across the country,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “The presidential election — which Joe Biden won by a significant margin — was one of the most secure in our nation’s history. Anyone unwilling to acknowledge the truth and who continues to perpetuate The Big Lie is unfit to be a public servant. This is bigger than a difference of opinion or a partisan fight between Republicans and Democrats: it’s increasingly becoming a fight between democracy itself and authoritarianism.” 

It’s not just local leaders speaking out against this sham of an audit: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) certified President Biden’s win last year and called the state’s elections a “model for the nation.” Former Arizona secretary of state Betsey Bayless (R) said, “Arizona needs to move on and not be the center of more of this political gossip.” Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R) distanced himself from the audit efforts and said these kinds of divisions “[don’t] do the party any good.” 

The so-called-audit is being conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm with no experience in political elections and whose CEO has publicly shared conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. It is being funded in part by Arizona taxpayers, as well as Trump allies like Lin Wood, Steve Bannon, and One America News Network. Overseeing the audit is the Arizona Senate’s Republican President, Karen Fann, whom Trump personally thanked at a Turning Point USA event last year. The process has brought some of the wildest conspiracy theories to center stage, like analyzing ballots for traces of “bamboo fibers” under baseless suspicion that ballots were smuggled in from China, and the use of UV light on ballots, echoing a QAnon conspiracy theory about legitimate ballots being marked by Trump. 

That’s just the beginning. Here’s a glimpse into the concerns brought up by critics of the audit, Republican and Democrat alike: 

  • The Guardian: Cyber Ninjas, UV lights and far-right funding: inside the strange Arizona 2020 election ‘audit
    • “The justice department sent its own letter to the Arizona senate expressing similar concerns as well as questioning a plan to knock on voters’ doors and to confirm their 2020 vote, which could lead to voter intimidation.” 
    • “Many of the audit’s publicly-released procedures are vague… laptops left unattended, and there weren’t guaranteed procedures in place to protect the chain of custody of ballots”
    • “After Anthony Kern, a Trump elector and former state lawmaker, appeared at a ballot counting table, Bennett said he was unsure how workers were being chosen (the Arizona Republic reported that far-right groups were involved in recruiting counters for the audit).”
    • “While audits usually ensure that representatives from both parties are present to inspect ballots, it’s unclear to what extent that’s happening, if at all, in Phoenix. Bennett said that 70% of observers – who do not count ballots – were Republicans and the remaining 30% were independents, libertarians and Democrats.”
    • “In late April, auditors were seen scanning ballots with UV lights, arousing suspicion because of a QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump watermarked legitimate ballots after the election.” 
    • “Last week John Brakey, an activist assisting with the audit, said officials were looking for bamboo fibers in a nod to a baseless conspiracy theory that ballots were smuggled in from China.”  
    • “…Once the ballots were tallied, there was no check to ensure that workers were entering aggregate totals into software….There’s nobody verifying that what they entered was correct. One person, single point of failure, as a former election official, someone who does audits, it’s a huge red flag for me,” Morrell said.”
  • New York Times: Arizona Vote Review Is ‘Political Theater’ and ‘Sham,’ G.O.P. Leaders Say
    • “The Republican leaders of Arizona’s most populous county issued a blistering rebuke on Monday to a review of the November election that had been ordered by Republicans in the State Senate, calling it “a grift disguised as an audit” that had spun out of the legislators’ control.” 
    • “People’s ballots and money are not make-believe. It’s time to be done with this craziness, and get on with this county’s critical business.”
    • We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer,” Mr. Richer wrote on Twitter. “As a party. As a state. As a country. This is as readily falsifiable as 2+2=5.” 
    • “State Senator Paul Boyer, a Republican from a suburban Phoenix district evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, made headlines last week after saying that the conduct of the review made him embarrassed to serve in the State Senate.”
  • Washington Post: Arizona Senate president says 2020 recount will proceed, despite angry objections from Maricopa County officials
    • “On Monday, the county’s GOP-majority board of supervisors jointly called for the audit to be closed, saying it was promoting false theories about the election and defaming local officials who ran the November election.”
    • “Our state has become a laughingstock,” the county officials wrote in their letter. “Worse, this ‘audit’ is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.”
    • “Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who certified Biden’s victory last year, has said he believes the state’s elections are a model for the nation.” 
    • “State and federal judges have previously rejected allegations of fraud in November, and two past audits, as well as a partial hand recount, have reconfirmed the results in Maricopa County, where Biden won by more than two points.”
  • Esquire: Arizona Locals Are Revolting Against the Clown-Show ‘Audit’ of Its 2020 Election
    • “I just want it over. I think Arizona needs to move on and not be the center of more of this political gossip,” said Betsey Bayless, the former Republican secretary of state for five years beginning in 1997.” 
    • “Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl…made clear he’s not associated with the audit, and sees little upside to it. “It is always the case that when there are serious controversies within a political party, it doesn’t do the party any good,” Kyl said…“And I think the divisions within the Republican Party will not reflect well on the party’s chances of success in the next election. That’s pretty obvious.”
    • “…The state senate and the Maricopa County election officials are about to go to war with each other because the county board is standing behind one pissed-off sheriff, and because the people running the audit are a few sandwiches short of a picnic.”

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