How ridiculous is the Arizona Republicans' ongoing election "audit"? As The New York Times reported, even one of the GOP state senators who helped open the door to this fiasco is finding the whole mess humiliating.
After a week marked by mounting accusations of partisan skulduggery, mismanagement and even potential illegality, at least one Republican supporter of the new count said it could not end soon enough. "It makes us look like idiots," State Senator Paul Boyer, a Republican from suburban Phoenix who supported the audit, said on Friday. "Looking back, I didn't think it would be this ridiculous. It's embarrassing to be a state senator at this point."
He's not wrong.
For those who may need a refresher, an official vote tally showed Joe Biden narrowly defeating Donald Trump in Arizona. There were two audits and a hand recount, each of which showed the same thing.
But Republican officials in the state still didn't believe it, so they recently launched yet another review, led by an obscure company — called "Cyber Ninjas" — with dubious credentials and led by a fringe conspiracy theorist.
As the review process began in earnest two weeks ago, it managed to become even more bonkers, with a combination of hidden procedures, security problems, weird inventions with unclear purposes, and rules that appeared to have been made up on the fly. (Don't even get me started on the bizarre search for "kinematic artifacts.")
Last week, one of the officials overseeing the process said on the record that auditors had started looking for — I kid you not — bamboo fibers in the ballots, as part of an unintentionally amusing conspiracy theory involving China.
State Sen. Paul Boyer's "It makes us look like idiots" line keeps coming to mind for a reason.
The legislator's comments are notable in part because it shows the degree to which this ongoing debacle has reached levels its own proponents can't defend, but I think Boyer's quote is also important because of what it tells us about the possible effects of the process.
It's quite likely that at some point, possibly over the summer, this tragically flawed "audit" and its Cyber Ninja administrators will produce some kind of report telling Donald Trump and other far-right conspiracy theorists what they want to hear. (The former president has reportedly told people he believes the Arizona process "could undo" the 2020 presidential election, which is why he's "fixated" on the developments.)
But by that point, it will still be a spectacular failure because the "audit" will obviously be the result of a corrupted process. No neutral observer will ever be able to take this nonsense seriously.
So why continue with the charade? Because Trump and his cohorts don't much care what neutral observers are able to take seriously. What matters is creating a new reality for the Republican Party and its base -- whether proponents of the Arizona circus end up looking "like idiots" or not.