The House Oversight Committee held its first hearing yesterday on Arizona Republicans' utterly bonkers election "audit," and members heard from local GOP officials who said Maricopa County conducted a "free, fair and accurate election" last November — and that President Joe Biden won the state fair and square.
The testimony and the facts did not resonate with some members of the panel. NBC News reported yesterday:
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., falsely claimed "we don't know" who won Arizona last November during a House hearing Thursday on Republicans' much-criticized ballot review that agreed President Joe Biden beat Donald Trump.
It was Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland who asked Biggs, the chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, who won the presidential election in Arizona last year. Biggs responded that "we don't know" because there were "a lot of issues."
Raskin, not surprisingly, was unimpressed. "This is the problem we have," the Democrat said, adding, "Unfortunately, we have one of the great political parties which has followed him off of the ledge of this electoral lunacy. It is dangerous for democracy. I am glad we are having this hearing today."
Raskin went on to tell the GOP's many anti-election conspiracy theorists, "You cannot bemoan the people's loss of faith in elections while you're spreading information and propaganda that are eroding the people's faith in elections."
Part of what's so discouraging about Biggs' strange posture is that his questions have obviously been answered. There was an official count of Arizona's ballots, and they showed Biden winning the state (just as he was expected to in pre-election polling). Then there was an official recount, which also showed Biden winning the state. Then there was an independent audit, which found literally nothing untoward in the state's balloting.
Then there was a not-at-all-independent audit, created by GOP state legislators, which concluded that Biden won by a slightly larger margin than previously reported.
And yet, there was Andy Biggs — who presumably accepts the results of his own Arizona election — insisting that "we don't know" who won the state, despite the fact that "we" know perfectly well what the results shows.
But the problem is not limited to Republicans' ongoing resistance to reality. NBC News' Benjy Sarlin noted yesterday that "we don't know" is the "likeliest mechanism for how you would steal an election" in 2024.
I think that's exactly right. There's no shortage of radical GOP voices running around, pretending that Donald Trump won the election he lost. But "we don't know" is actually a more pernicious line: It opens the door to anti-election voices arguing, "The official tally shows one outcome, but since there are doubts and apparent irregularities, we're better off letting state elected officials make the final call as to who actually won. And as luck would have it, my state's elected officials just happen to be Republicans so...."
The point is to create doubt where none should exist, and leverage manufactured skepticism to nullify election results the GOP doesn't like.