As the Arizona Republicans' utterly bonkers election "audit" dragged on over the summer, a problem emerged: GOP officials from other states started showing up, taking notes, and making plans to export the fiasco.
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R), a spokesperson for the audit, said of the visitors in June, "I think some of it was just people watching and seeing what's going on in Arizona. It took them a few weeks to decide: Wow, that's still going? And nobody shut it down? Something must be going on that maybe we ought to go look at if we're thinking about doing something similar in our state."
A month later, the Justice Department reminded states that federal law matters when officials conduct post-election reviews. A New York Times report noted at the time that the Justice Department warned state officials that "auditors could face criminal and civil penalties if they destroy any records related to the election or intimidate voters in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 and federal laws prohibiting voter intimidation."
And yet, key Republican legislators in Pennsylvania are apparently determined to repeat Arizona's mistake anyway. NBC News reported:
A leading Republican Pennsylvania state senator rebooted an Arizona-style investigation of last fall's vote tally nearly 10 months after President Joe Biden won the state by 80,000 votes, pledging to launch hearings this week.
State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R) specifically told a conservative media personality that he and his Republican colleagues are moving forward with a "full forensic investigation" of Pennsylvania's election, which President Biden narrowly won last fall.
By way of an explanation, the Corman said, "I don't necessarily have faith in the results. I think that there were many problems in our election that we need to get to the bottom of."
To date, no one has produced any evidence of "many problems" in Pennsylvania's elections. A couple of Trump voters were caught trying to cast illegal ballots on behalf of dead relatives, but in a state in which roughly 7 million Pennsylvanians voted, the vanishingly small number of Republicans who tried and failed to commit fraud was inconsequential.
Indeed, as the NBC News report added, after the official tally showed Biden winning the Keystone State, "Pennsylvania conducted two-post election audits confirming the accuracy of last fall's count, and the results were certified."
And yet, here we are. Republicans in the Arizona state Senate and their Cyber Ninja allies became national laughingstocks -- I'm sure those bamboo fibers will show up any minute now -- which helped inspire their misguided brethren in Pennsylvania to follow in their footsteps.
There's been some intra-party drama in the state Capitol -- state Sen. Doug Mastriano has been removed from his role leading the review, replaced by state Sen. Cris Dush, who traveled to Arizona in June -- but the bottom line remains the same: Pennsylvania Republicans are poised to begin a wildly unnecessary "audit" in the coming days.
Proponents have said the review is necessary to uncover irregularities that exist in the minds of pro-Trump forces and their allied conspiracy theorists. But as the circus in Arizona has made clear, the actual goal of these endeavors is to undermine public confidence in American elections and create a pretense for additional anti-voting measures.