Audits restore confidence in elections

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Election audits for the 2020 elections are under attack in the media.

It’s easy to see why some calls for verification have drawn criticism.

But audits can be very helpful. Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor, calls for an “audit” of the state’s voting machines. Former Carlyle Group Co-CEO says, “I grew up in a world where you have an audit every year, in companies you have an audit. So let’s just check the voting machines, post it for everyone to see.

Kari Lake, a former Phoenix news anchor whose candidacy for Arizona governor was approved by Donald Trump, said she would not have certified the results of the state’s 2020 election. She cited “serious irregularities and problems with the elections”.

What she didn’t do was directly allege the fraud – and that was smart. Official results showed Trump lost Arizona by some 10,000 votes out of some 3.4 million votes cast. A newly released forensic audit of Maricopa County results ordered by the GOP-controlled Arizona State Senate recounted an estimated 2.1 million ballots cast in the count. He found 261 fewer ballots for Trump and 99 more for Biden than the county, prompting critics to declare the audit both irresponsible and a waste of time.

No one should now doubt that the final vote tally shows Biden winning the state. But critics of the audit either fail to understand the purpose of an audit or are deliberately trying to obscure the fact that Arizona’s audit revealed disturbing findings that should be used to avoid problems in future elections.

One of us was a former county election official for major jurisdictions in Georgia and Virginia. The recounts – what Arizona’s audit was – almost always show only slight differences from the original ballot tab. The fact that the manual recount in Maricopa County corresponds to the machine recount simply means that the computer scanners used to scan and compile the paper ballots were functioning properly. A recount only recounts the ballots that have been cast – a recount does not investigate, examine, or revise the legitimacy of those ballots.

A recount does not verify or verify whether the ballots were cast by registered voters who are indeed deceased; who do not live where they claim to live; who have voted more than once because they are registered more than once; or who are not eligible to vote even if they are registered because they are not US citizens or are criminals who have not yet had their voting rights reinstated.

A simple example illustrates this problem. If a homeowners association has an election and the new president wins with 51 votes out of 100, a recount will no doubt confirm that she received 51 votes. But it won’t reveal whether 5 of its 51 votes were cast by individuals who falsely claimed to live in the neighborhood when they actually live elsewhere.

Volume III of the Maricopa audit lists some disturbing findings. This includes 23,344 “postal ballots voted from a previous address”; 9,041 “more ballots returned by the voter than received”; 5,295 “voters who potentially voted in multiple counties”; 2,592 “more duplicates than the original ballots”; and 2,382 “voters in person who had left Maricopa County”.

Many other issues are listed, such as voters whose ballots were counted despite registering to vote after the state registration deadline had already passed.

These are serious potential issues that should be investigated with the help of law enforcement. For example, the individual voter files of the 5,295 “voters who potentially voted in multiple counties” should be retrieved, and each voter should be surveyed to determine if they have multiple registrations and, in fact, , illegally cast more than one vote in the 2020 election.

Contrary to what some passionate supporters of Donald Trump seem to believe, the purpose of an audit is not to overturn an election. It is too late to do so. Every state has election laws that provide for very short deadlines for a losing candidate to challenge the outcome of an election. This time limit has long expired in Arizona and all other states.

Instead, the audits aim to determine whether the voting machines were functioning properly; whether applicable state and federal laws and regulations have been observed; whether the voter registration list was accurate and up-to-date and allowed only eligible people to vote; and whether all eligible voters have been able to vote, their votes have been correctly counted and their votes have not been annulled or annulled by fraud, errors or errors.

The results of such an election audit can then be used to correct any compliance issues, to prosecute anyone who has engaged in intentional misconduct that violates state or federal election laws, to change election administration procedures that have led to errors and mistakes on the part of election officials, and to provide lawmakers with the information they need to make the necessary changes to election laws to ensure that the problems detected do not recur in future elections.

What is most disturbing about the reaction to the audit report is that many seem to think this is the end of the review process, since the manual recount showed that Biden won and, therefore, nothing. else does not need to be done. This attitude is particularly worrying among election officials in Maricopa County, who from the outset went out of their way to obstruct the audit and who now claim that since their “outline” was precise, they have nothing to do with it. do other.

This attitude is bad. The audit appears to have revealed that sloppy, negligent and chaotic procedures were used in Maricopa County during the last election. Officials have a duty not only to investigate any potential issues detected by the audit, such as potential multiple registrations by the same person, but also to correct their procedures and implement better training for their election officials. to ensure that such problems, if confirmed, do not recur.

Opposing the conduct of election audits is reckless and unwarranted. Audits are rife in the business world for good reason. Conducting random or full audits after an election in each state should also be routine.

Contrary to the bizarre claim by election officials in Harris County, Texas that audits are “an attack by officials on our communities’ confidence in elections,” audits are a form of transparency, ensuring the safety of the government. electoral process and improving public confidence in the integrity of elections.

We can agree that President Biden is the legal winner of the 2020 election. We should also agree that the serious issues that have arisen around it must be addressed if we are to avoid a potential conflict over the 2024 results.


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