Trump supporters — particularly those with large platforms and, often, something to sell — spent months hyping up the sham “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s election results as the first domino to fall: First Arizona, then Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and so on would acknowledge that Trump, in fact, had been robbed of a second term in office. Perhaps, they mused, the audit would even result in a “decertification” of the election.
But, according to drafts of the final audit tally circulating Friday, the report offered little comfort: Biden won, according to the inexperienced and politically biased auditors’ work, by more votes than the official count.
That left the most fervent election truthers in a difficult position: What to say?
Some trashed the process as impossibly biased from the start.
“When the audit began, it was clear the boxes had a possibility of being compromised,” Liz Harris, a right-wing activist whose own door-to-door canvassing effort in Arizona was cited in the audit report, wrote on Telegram.
Many audit supporters gravitated towards sections of the report that claimed the number of “potential ballots impacted” by various problems numbered in the tens of thousands.
Peter Navarro, a former White House advisor who for months has claimed there was widespread election fraud in 2020, jumped on those figures to try to sell yet another book, “In Trump Time.”
“Results of the official Arizona audit confirm that there were over 50,000 potentially illegal ballots in Arizona’s Maricopa County alone,” he said — before bragging the numbers “closely match” theories espoused in his new book.
But even there, the report is weak on its own terms. The largest single number of in-question ballots, 15,035, comes from “mail-in votes from voters who moved within Maricopa County prior to the registration deadline.” In other words: Maricopa County voters who voted… in Maricopa County. The auditors also admitted to using “commercially available data” rather than the official county records to cross-check voters, a practice that one elections consultant told the Arizona Republic was sloppy.
Other efforts by Trump fans to dig up some MAGA-world positives in the report were similarly meager.
Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington, for example, noted that the report found 10,342 Arizona voters with the same names and birth years. She claimed, and the report implied, that this showed people who “voted in multiple counties.” But there’s a simpler explanation: Lots of people share names and ages. The Washington Post on Friday found four 43-year-old John Smiths living in Arizona, for instance. Maricopa County itself responded to the report in part by noting the 12 voters statewide with the name Maria Garcia who were born in 1980.
10,342 voters "with the same first, middle, last name and birth year" voted in multiple counties— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) September 24, 2021
Duplicate voters pic.twitter.com/AJHSRBOe3L
In this sense, the audit failed: Not only did it count Biden’s victory, but even its attempts to sow doubts about its own findings and the official results are fairly weak and rehearsed.
But for Trump supporters desperate to keep the fiction going — particularly those who’ve staked their political campaigns on the Big Lie — the show needed to go on.
Responding to the disappointing report, they ignored the bad news and acted as if it had affirmed their prior assumptions. And, therefore: Audits, forever and always.
“Now that the audit of Maricopa is wrapping up, we need to Audit Pima County – the 2nd largest county in AZ,” Mark Finchem, a member of the state legislature and the Trump-endorsed candidate for Arizona secretary of state tweeted. He urged readers to sign his “petition” for a Pima County audit — one that would give his campaign their personal information.
A state representative from Florida used the report to call for audits in every state in the country.
As did Eric Greitens, the disgraced former governor of Missouri now running for U.S. Senate.
Others, having exhausted their options for slicing and dicing the report, simply went the bumper sticker route. Christina Bobb, the One America News Network anchor, fundraised for the audit while covering it:
And Kelli Ward is the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party: