As partisan Arizona election review ends, Republicans try copycat tactics in other states
As Republicans in the Arizona Senate gear up to release the results Friday of a long-delayed and problem-plagued examination of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, calls for reviews of the 2020 election persist in other key battlegrounds.
The demands to revisit the 2020 election are coming even in places where former President Donald Trump prevailed last November, as Republicans respond to pressure from Trump and his supporters to investigate discredited fraud claims and seek to erode the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's victory.
In Florida -- a state Trump won -- state Rep. Anthony Sabatini this month introduced a bill that calls for a third-party examination "of every precinct in each county with a population of 250,000 or more."
All but one of the dozen Florida counties President Joe Biden carried last November have populations larger than 250,000.
Sabatini, a Republican running for Congress who has closely aligned himself with Trump's politics, told CNN that he started with large communities as an initial test but is open to reviews in all counties.
He described the reviews as something that should become standard post-election procedures "just to make sure elections are working the way people say they are working."
"Whether it's 10 minutes or 10 months or 10 years after the election really has nothing to do with the principle of the matter," Sabatini added. "You want to double check to increase certainty in the election results to make sure there were no mistakes made, that there was no fraud."
The efforts to relitigate the election in these battleground states will not change the outcome of the 2020 presidential race, which has long been certified. But election watchers say the pervasive calls for reviews amount to an unprecedented effort to politicize election administration and undermine confidence in results.
"This is the continuation of the Big Lie" that the 2020 election was stolen, said Michael King, the associate director of law and policy at the nonprofit voting group Secure Democracy.
"Part of it is calling into question the legitimacy of our elections, writ large," he said. "And a lot of partisan elected officials are using it to energize their base and potentially fundraise off of it."
Potential wedge issue
Some Republicans are working to make the reviews a wedge issue in upcoming primaries.
Abbott's office did not respond to interview requests.
Gableman said the investigation is not aimed at challenging the results of last year's election in the state, which Biden won by fewer than 21,000 votes. But he said the inquiry may include "a vigorous and comprehensive audit if the facts that are discovered justify such a course of action."
He also warned that county and municipal election clerks who do not cooperate could face subpoenas to "compel answers."
His video, the first explanation of his investigation since Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appointed Gableman special counsel in late July, appeared to respond to critics on the right who have expressed dissatisfaction both with the investigation and Vos.
In another presidential battleground, Senate Republicans in Pennsylvania recently voted to subpoena the Pennsylvania Department of State for a range of information on all registered voters, including their names, addresses, dates of birth, driver's license numbers and partial Social Security numbers.
Republican lawmakers say the partisan review of the 2020 election will help determine whether new election laws are merited. Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
September 23, 2021, 4:56 pm