Amazingly enough, the Arizona GOP audit of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County found that Joe Biden not only won the state but did so by a slightly larger margin than the official count.
A monthslong hand recount of Maricopa County’s 2020 vote confirmed that President Joe Biden won and the election was not “stolen” from former President Donald Trump, according to early versions of a report prepared for the Arizona Senate.
The three-volume report by the Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead contractor, includes results that show Trump lost by a wider margin than the county’s official election results. The data in the report also confirms that U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly won in the county.
The official results are set to be presented to the Senate at 1 p.m. Friday. Several versions of the draft report, titled “Maricopa County Forensic Audit” by Cyber Ninjas, circulated prematurely on Wednesday and Thursday. Multiple versions were obtained by The Arizona Republic.
The Cyber Ninjas and their subcontractors were paid millions to research and write the report by nonprofits set up by prominent figures in the “Stop the Steal” movement and allies of Donald Trump, but Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan said that would not influence their work.
The draft reports reviewed by The Republic minimize the ballot counts and election results and instead focus on issues that raise questions about the election process and voter integrity.
Election analysts say those findings are misleading and built on faulty data.
The draft report shows there was less than a 1,000-vote difference between the county's certified ballot count and the Cyber Ninjas' hand count.
The hand count shows Trump received 45,469 fewer votes than Biden. The county results showed he lost by 45,109.
The draft audit report says, however, the election results are inconclusive.
Maricopa County Board Chairman Jack Sellers said the overall results in the draft report confirm “the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters.”
“That should be the end of the story,” he said. “Everything else is just noise.”
Sellers is right, this should be the end of the story, the end of Trump, and the end of the GOP. Republicans who supported the Big Lie should be laughed out the room, shamed out of office, and charged with fraud.
Of course, as Robert Kagan reminds us, the noise is but the opening stanza of the dirge of catastrophe that awaits our democracy in the years ahead.
The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:
First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.
Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.
Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.
The stage is thus being set for chaos. Imagine weeks of competing mass protests across multiple states as lawmakers from both parties claim victory and charge the other with unconstitutional efforts to take power. Partisans on both sides are likely to be better armed and more willing to inflict harm than they were in 2020. Would governors call out the National Guard? Would President Biden nationalize the Guard and place it under his control, invoke the Insurrection Act, and send troops into Pennsylvania or Texas or Wisconsin to quell violent protests? Deploying federal power in the states would be decried as tyranny. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.
Today’s arguments over the filibuster will seem quaint in three years if the American political system enters a crisis for which the Constitution offers no remedy.
This is happening, out in the open, and it is happening now. 2020 was a dress rehearsal. The 2024 revision will, unless it is stopped, put America into a hell of authoritarian make where the only party will be the GOP, and we will join the many other dictator "democracy" states: the Philippines, Brazil, Turkey, Poland, Russia, where the reality of elections is permanent one-party rule by a tyrant dynasty for decades, cemented by military power.
We barely escaped it last time. We won't be so lucky in 2024. Trump is setting the stage for a coup if he loses, and more importantly, he's setting the stage to normalize challenging and even nullifying and overturning election wins by Democrats in the years ahead.
Pay attention. It only gets worse from here.