With reports coming in about lack of planning and questionable practices as the GOP-led audit of the 2020 presidential votes in Arizona continues this weekend, questions are being raised over the impact the fumbling attempt to find a Donald Trump victory may have on the future of Arizona's Republican Party.
On Saturday, Trump issued multiple press releases about the recount with the ex-president demanding Republican Gov. Doug Ducey call out the National Guard to protect the "patriots" who are doing the audit.
On Sunday morning, the New York Times reported that the audit has been, at best, chaotic with one critic pointing out the organizers are "making it up as they go along."
According to the Times' Michael Wines, "...when a parade of flatbed trucks last week hauled boxes of voting equipment and 78 pallets containing the 2.1 million ballots of Arizona's largest county to a decrepit local coliseum, it kicked off a seat-of-the-pants, glaringly partisan audit process that seemed more likely to amplify Republican grievances than to put them to rest. Almost half a year after the election Mr. Trump lost, the promised audit has become a snipe hunt for skulduggery that has spanned a court battle, death threats and calls to arrest the elected leadership of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix."
With Wines noting, "Critics in both parties charge that an effort that began as a way to placate angry Trump voters has become a political embarrassment and another blow to the once-inviolable democratic norm that losers and winners alike honor the results of elections," Steve Gallardo, a Democrat on the Republican-dominated Maricopa Board of Supervisors, added his two cents, wryly noting, "You know the dog that caught the car? The dog doesn't know what to do with it."
Gallardo's comments were echoed by Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who serves as Arizona's secretary of state.
In an email, she wrote, "My concern grows deeper by the hour. It is clear that no one involved in this process knows what they are doing, and they are making it up as they go along."
According to a local pollster with a long history with Arizona Republicans, the chaos and the questions about the audit could come back to hurt the state's GOP.
"I get why they're doing it, because half of the G.O.P. believes there was widespread fraud," explained Mike Noble. "The only problem is, a majority of the electorate doesn't believe there was widespread fraud. The longer they push this the more they're alienating people in the middle."
The Times' Wines added, "But unease about the audit has continued to mushroom. Ms. Hobbs, the secretary of state, asked the state attorney general, Mark Brnovich, a Republican, to investigate the Senate's handling of the procedure, citing a lack of transparency about security of ballots. She noted that some of the Legislature's furthest-right firebrands have had free access to the coliseum even as it remained unclear whether reporters and impartial election experts would be allowed to observe the proceedings."
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