During the past few weeks, the words “Arizona” and “recount” and “2020 election results” have floated across all of my various screens, words that my brain has quite frankly refused to process both separately and together. It’s called self-care!
Unfortunately, people in my life refuse to let me ignore the Republicans in Arizona who are refusing to concede defeat, ordering a recount of the more than two million ballots cast in Maricopa County that have already been validated and certified. “Did you hear about the bamboo thing?” one friend texted me this weekend. I did not hear about the bamboo thing, which I now know to my everlasting regret is a conspiracy theory raised by some proponents of the recount that alleges that some of what they think are fraudulent ballots—spoiler: they are not!—may contain bamboo fibers, a sign that they came from somewhere in Asia. Where is the asteroid when you need it???
This recount will not change the election results, it should be noted, but what it will do is increase the already heightened distrust of our elections, which seems to be the only point of this useless exercise. That Republicans in the state senate hired a Florida-based company called—haha!—Cyber Ninjas whose owner Doug Logan promoted the lie that the election was stolen and pushed the “Stop the Steal” movement to conduct the audit is the first hint that this is merely a partisan effort to sow more distrust and spread misinformation. In a further sign that we live in a simulation, the recount process led by Cyber Ninjas has been so lax in its security that a top official in the Department of Justice warned that ballots “are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed” and that the recount may violate federal law. Arizona’s Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, was the first to raise the alarm that, as she put it, Cyber Ninjas’s review represented “a significant departure from standard best practices.” According to the Times, her remarks resulted in Trump supporters sending her death threats, and Hobbs had to be given protection from the state police.
That the process has devolved is no surprise and would be almost laughable if it didn’t also signal a consumptive little death rattle for the state of our representative democracy. But even some Republican politicians who supported the recount now have regrets that a highly predictable outcome has now come to pass. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Republican state senator Paul Boyer expressed a little bit of buyer’s remorse. “It makes us look like idiots,” Boyer told the Times. He added, “Looking back, I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”
Unfortunately for Boyer and for me, the process he helped kickstart will likely go through the summer.