An Arizona ballot review designed to validate former President Donald Trump’s fake vote-fraud claims from last year’s election found that Democrat Joe Biden not only did indeed win that state, but that he won by more than was originally thought. But that’s not stopping Republicans in other states from pursuing similarly baseless challenges.
This is actually worse than just an enslaved political party trying to obediently salve the bruised ego of its bombastic leader. By going through the motions of these post-election vote investigations, pretending there’s actually something to investigate, Republicans are normalizing this bizarre process of unjustified ballot challenges. This could make it that much easier for them to succeed in overturning valid elections next time — with an assist from the voter suppression schemes that red state legislatures around America are writing into their statutes.
Any discussion of the supposed controversy over vote integrity in the 2020 presidential election must start with one reality-reaffirming statement: There was never any indication of fraud. Everything that Trump and his minions have done in the aftermath — the dozens of doomed lawsuits filed by Trump’s lawyers, the attempt by congressional Republicans to overturn the election, the Jan. 6 mob assault on the Capitol, all of it — was based on nothing but Trump’s narcissistic refusal to accept the voters’ judgment.
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But what began as Republicans’ pathetic pandering to that narcissism has morphed into a dangerous new partisan strategy that goes beyond Trumpism. Emboldened by how easy it was for Trump to convince much of the right that he won an election he clearly lost, state-level Republicans see an opportunity to counter the demographic challenges they’ll face in future elections. The electorate may be getting younger, more diverse and more liberal, none of which bodes well for an ideologically moribund GOP, but Republicans still control a majority of states and the electoral systems in those states.
Thus did Arizona Republicans launch their ill-fated ballot review. As is typical of these reviews, it targeted only a large urban center (Maricopa County), where there are the most Democratic votes. It was conducted by private contractors hand-picked by Republicans. And still, the results only strengthened Biden’s victory there.
Despite this ringing defeat for Trump’s lie, Texas Republicans are now pursuing similar nonsense, ordering (at Trump’s behest) reviews of ballots in four large counties, even though Trump won the state. It’s clearly a fishing expedition meant to find something, anything, that could be used to justify overturning future elections. Similar efforts are underway in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
These aren’t just partisan sideshows, but an attempt to lay groundwork for a more successful assault on the ballot than Republicans were able to launch last time. Voters of either party who still believe in electoral democracy should purge these institutional vandals from public office — while they still can.