EDITORIAL: Maricopa County ballot audit highlights necessity of addressing voter concerns

To paraphrase Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Arizona.

The line, which comes from “Hamlet” and is intended to reflect a character’s suspicion about the integrity of the political hierarchy, is equally applicable to the effort by Republicans in the state to conduct an audit of the 2020 Maricopa County ballots. So many obstacles have been encountered it appears that someone, somewhere is intent on making sure it doesn’t ever happen.

It might not and — even if it does, the data might be so corrupt by now the findings would be useless. Nonetheless, how Democrats in that state and others as well as in Washington. D.C., continue to insist Republicans admit the election was not tainted by fraud and that Joe Biden won “fair and square” is troubling.

Admittedly, the evidence to support the allegations of fraud is, at best, limited. One would think, however, with so many people believing President Biden’s election is not legitimate it would be in the best interests of the Democrats to show it was. Standing in the way while forcing others to acknowledge its legitimacy recalls another line from Shakespeare, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Or to put it another way, what could they possibly be hiding?

This is not a partisan issue. The integrity of the electoral process was already in doubt because of Donald Trump’s unexpected win in 2016 over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Pollster David Winston says 62 percent of Democrats believe it came about because of Russian interference. That skepticism is mirrored by the reaction of 61 percent of Republicans — perhaps fueled by former President Trump’s unproven claims of fraud — that the Biden presidency is illegitimate.

“When looking at the current state of our democracy,” Mr. Winston continues, “only 19 percent of the electorate believes both Biden and Trump won fairly.” Interestingly enough, and counter to the conventional narrative, more Republicans thought both won fairly than Democrats, 20 percent to 15 percent. Things are not hopeless. Congress has finally come together on a bipartisan plan to review the events of Jan. 6. They would be doing themselves and the country a favor if they could agree on a way to analyze the results of Nov. 3 as well. Questioning the results is not treasonous, as some claim. The Winston data reflects what he calls “a challenge to both parties and the country as a whole.” Nearly 80 percent of the country has some doubt in the fairness of the last two presidential elections. Having politicians in one party demand politicians in the other say otherwise for obvious gain only adds to the concerns of voters. People won’t have confidence their vote counts until they have confidence in how those votes are cast and counted.

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