After winning a lawsuit to take possession of all of the 2020 presidential ballots and election equipment in Arizona’s most populous county, Arizona’s Republican-led Senate is poised to take 2020’s post-election brawls into new territory where investigating unproven claims of electronically stolen votes, not widespread illegal voting, will be center stage.
Many Republicans, including Arizona legislators, have voiced their belief that former President Trump was unfairly denied a second term, citing various vote-centered conspiracies. In 61 out of 62 post-election lawsuits filed by Trump’s allies across the country, scores of federal and state judges rejected those assertions as groundless and lacking proof.
But now that Arizona’s Senate has affirmed its authority to investigate the accuracy of 2020’s presidential vote count in America’s second-largest election jurisdiction—Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located—the focus has shifted from legislators fanning unproven claims of stolen votes to whether Republican lawmakers will conduct a credible evidence-centered inquiry.
“The Senate has and is doing a 100 percent audit, which is why we fought so hard to have access to all the data and documents,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann wrote on Facebook on March 2. “We are doing extensive research, interviewing, and background checks to make sure we find the best team available… This is and has always been about election integrity and getting answers to our constituents’ questions and concerns.”
The exercise will not change the election results, which have been certified. Trump lost Arizona by 10,457 votes, a closer margin than in Georgia, where that GOP-led state conducted a manual hand count of all of its presidential election ballots, and then electronically recounted those same paper ballots. It twice confirmed Joe Biden’s victory over Trump before certifying the result. The investigation that is taking shape in Arizona could be as thorough as what was undertaken in Georgia, or it could descend into political theater to placate Trump’s base.
“As you know, there is no credible evidence for any of the conspiracy theories that have abounded about the 2020 General Election,” wrote Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, to Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen on March 3. “If your goal is truly to rebuild public confidence in our democracy, it is imperative that you establish and abide by clear procedures and parameters for the security and confidentiality of the ballots and election equipment while in your custody and ensure independence and transparency should you proceed with any further audit.”