New Analysis: Efforts in Four States Follow Arizona in Proposed and Ongoing Partisan “Audits” of 2020 Election

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Protect Democracy, and the R Street Institute today published Partisan Election Review Efforts in Five States, a look at efforts to conduct so-called “audits” of 2020 election results in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In each state, election officials have already conducted post-election audits without any findings of widespread fraud. The partisan attempts to review election results are organized by people publicly associated with pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the election. These plans, the report’s authors show, have severe deficiencies in basic security, accuracy, reliability, and transparency.

“The five fraudits are dressed up as fact-finding missions, but they are meant to create evidence that doesn’t exist — fake proof of the myth that the 2020 election was somehow wrongly decided and false validation for the restrictions on the vote now sweeping the country,” said Gowri Ramachandran, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program.

Like the “audit” of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County, Arizona, the efforts in the other four states are riddled with extreme bias. For example, in June, the Wisconsin state assembly speaker announced that an investigation of the 2020 election would be led by a former state Supreme Court justice who has said the election was stolen.

And in Michigan, Cheboygan County commissioners are considering an offer to audit the county’s election results, a proposal presented by an attorney connected to Sidney Powell, who filed conspiracy-driven election lawsuits for the Trump campaign.

“This report highlights the need for election audits to be conducted by trustworthy, nonpartisan professionals and lays out in stark relief just how unreliable and dangerous the partisan ‘audits’ sweeping the country really are,” said Matthew Germer, a fellow in the Governance Program at the R Street Institute.

Each of the efforts detailed in the report has its own scope and is at a different phase of development. Maricopa County is the one “audit” that is near completion. So far, it has cost taxpayers $2.4 million.

Partisan Election Review Efforts in Five States describes the professional backgrounds of the people spearheading the so-called “audits,” noting the absence of experience with election administration, voting machines, and other election-related technology, and the consequences.

The Arizona “auditors,” for example, relied on an untested technique to look at the folds in paper ballots using ultraviolet light, ostensibly to find signs of fraud. Ultraviolet light can cause deterioration in markings on paper and in the paper itself. In March, plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking an “audit” of results from Fulton County, Georgia, announced their decision to work with the inventor of the ultraviolet light method in their effort.

“While these so-called audits cost taxpayers money, their real cost is the damage they do to the health of our democracy,” said Sara Chimene-Weiss, counsel at Protect Democracy. “In a democracy, the voters decide the outcome of elections, and those who lose elections must accept the will of the voters. These so-called ‘audits’ are not legitimate reviews, they are taxpayer-funded disinformation campaigns aimed at weakening Americans’ faith in democracy.”

Please click here to read the full report.