Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The Arizona Republic Sunday virtually dedicated the entire first section of the paper to the “audit” of Maricopa’s November election results. There were two major pieces; the first, a thorough doxing of everyone even remotely associated with the audit who may have suggested that the Nov. 6 election results may be in question; of course they are in question! The AZ Senate did not demand a review because they had confidence in the result; quite the opposite.
The second piece was a self-congratulatory piece lauding the media’s coverage of this audit. They obviously are the ones that they are looking for, but despite all the alarm and conjecture, a near constant drumbeat of allegations of incompetence, prejudice, and chaos, there has been little to report at all. The obvious reason for this coordinated chorus is to queer any conclusion or result, to allege that the entire exercise was a clown show of the highest order and to undermine the credibility of anyone who says otherwise.
In fact, there has been very little news coming out of this audit. There have been no announcements, no daily pressers. They are simply moving along, counting, verifying, deflecting criticism, but there have been few leaks. Whatever they are discovering, they are keeping it close.
The media has had quite a lot to report about the auditors, Cyber Ninjas, the lead contractor coordinating the audit effort. They are a cyber-security consulting firm with little in the way of election audit experience. But wait, when was the last time an outside firm was contracted to “audit” any election results? How about, never? Usually recounts are conducted by the same organizations and partisans who conduct elections. That has certainly been the case in AZ and this does not lead one to great confidence in the results of a limited, internally conducted, review.
Cyber Ninjas is independent and skeptical, at the very least. No, they are not Deloitte or Price-Waterhouse Coopers, but they are still independent. By the way, none of the major auditing firms would even consider taking on this engagement; it is far too political, too fraught with risk, for them to consider; too much downside. There is not enough money in the world to coax them to take on this job.
Auditing an election result is not rocket science. If the election was conducted correctly, it is simply a matter of documenting controls and processes, verifying those controls, recounting ballots, verifying chain of custody and batch data, and summarizing results. If the precincts were properly balanced, it should be simple.
But it won’t be simple. It will likely be chaos, especially if procedures were ill-conceived and still not followed, if ballots were not properly stored and secured, if machines were not properly sealed, if precinct vote tallies were not properly balanced with voter rolls, etc. Much of the audit will be conducted digitally, comparing voter rolls with death data for example, and other procedures meant to uncover questionable voters, but these procedures will not alter vote tallies; they will only lead to questions about processes, controls, and vote legitimacy.
In the end, however, I’m afraid that this audit will come to no definitive conclusion. The election, I’m afraid, is unauditable, in part because the processes are flawed and in part because these processes and controls are either not in evidence or were not followed at all. The press, Democrats, and voting officials will blame the auditors. The auditors and Republican supporters will claim that voting officials are at best, incompetent and at worst, criminal and allied with corrupt Democrats.
One thing is sure. The hand counts will not match the final tallies. If this simple recount result disagrees with the final election result…
I have no idea. This is virgin political ground.Published in