Earlier this year, Republicans in the Arizona state Senate forced yet another audit of more than two million Maricopa County ballots from the 2020 election.
Maricopa County was a substantial target of former President Donald Trump's lie that Democrats "stole" the election from him through widespread voter fraud.
There are growing concerns this latest audit is more about validating these lies to Republican voters, rather than ensuring so-called election integrity. Arizona Senate Republicans employed Cyber Ninjas—a firm with no elections experience whose owner has expressed support for Trump's election conspiracy theories—to oversee the auditing process.
The firm's initial efforts to keep the process from public scrutiny failed. Since then, it's increasingly apparent that auditors are using resources to search for nonexistent evidence of unhinged conspiracy theories. These have ranged from scouring ballots for bamboo fibers in case they were flown in from Asia, and accusing elections officials of feeding shredded ballots to chickens before incinerating the chickens to hide the evidence.
In a lengthy letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann this week, Maricopa County's majority-Republican Board of Supervisors warned that audit officials were miscounting ballots and displaying a lack of knowledge for how these audits even work.
And on Tuesday, the Maricopa County Board Supervisor Bill Gates—a Republican—excoriated the efforts behind the audit in a blistering press conference.
After reiterating his confidence in the 2020 election results and Maricopa County's multiple verifications of the outcome, Gates said:
"Now, it's time to say 'Enough is enough.' It is time to push back on the Big Lie. We must do this. We must do this as a member of the Republican party, we must do this as a member of the Board of Supervisors, we need to do this as a country. Otherwise, we are not gonna be able to move forward and have an election in 2022 that we can all believe the results, whatever they may be."
Gates' rebuke of his party's delusions was widely shared online.
He's far from the only one calling out the forced audit.
Trump, who has made wildly false statements regarding the audit in recent weeks, has yet to respond.