Where election review efforts stand across the US
The controversial forensic audit of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county may be over, but it has already inspired a number of copycat efforts in other states.
The months-long election audit in Maricopa County reaffirmed President Biden’s win, and even expanded his margin of victory over former President Trump by about 360 votes, according to a report released Friday.
Still, Republicans in other states that helped Biden clinch the presidency have initiated their own Arizona-style election reviews in the face of pressure from Trump and his allies, who continue to insist without evidence that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread fraud and systemic irregularities.
Here’s where election review efforts stand across the country:
Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state Senate launched a so-called forensic investigation of the 2020 election earlier this month and a key committee quickly moved to subpoena the information of millions of voters, as well as records from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.
In the same vein as Arizona, Pennsylvania state Senate Republicans are planning to hire a contractor to lead the audit effort, which could drag on for months.
The GOP-led investigation has already drawn legal challenges. Last week, Democrats in the state Senate sued in state court to block the subpoena seeking voter information and end the review altogether. On Thursday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) filed a lawsuit seeking to block the subpoena, as well.
Critics of the audit say it’s little more than a partisan effort to further erode confidence in the election results. But state Republicans have touted the effort as a top priority, arguing that their constituents are genuinely concerned about the accuracy of the 2020 election.
Wisconsin Republicans are pushing three separate reviews of the 2020 election, including a wide-ranging investigation backed by state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a so-called forensic audit led by state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R) and a nonpartisan review being conducted by the state’s Legislative Audit Bureau.
The investigation backed by Vos is the highest-profile of the three. It’s being led by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman and carries a roughly $700,000 budget. Prior to the start of the investigation, Gableman visited the site of the Arizona election audit. He’s threatening to issue subpoenas to election officials who refuse to comply with his requests for information.
The attempted forensic audit led by Brandtjen, meanwhile, hit a roadblock after Vos refused to sign a subpoena to officials in two counties.
The nonpartisan election review by the Legislative Audit Bureau is perhaps the least controversial. Although it was ordered by the Republican-controlled state legislature, state Democrats have said that they believe the audit bureau will carry out its work responsibly. The bureau’s findings are expected sometime this fall.
Texas is in a league of its own insofar as Trump carried it by more than 5 percentage points last year. In contrast, Biden pulled off wins in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Texas secretary of state’s office announced Thursday that it would launch a “comprehensive forensic audit” of the election results in four of the state’s largest counties: Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant. Of those four, only Collin County voted with Trump in November.
The decision by the secretary of state’s office came hours after Trump publicly demanded that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) back a bill to launch a “forensic audit of the 2020 election,” singling out a governor who is up for reelection next year and is already facing pressure from his political right.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and local election officials have conducted multiple audits of the 2020 election, and none have found evidence of widespread fraud or security issues.
But Trump and his allies are still gunning for an Arizona-style audit in Michigan, a state that flipped to Biden after Trump carried it in 2016. The Detroit News reported earlier this month that Trump had called state GOP Chair Ron Weiser to discuss the potential for another audit of the 2020 election in Michigan.
The call between Trump and Weiser was revealed by state GOP co-Chair Meshawn Maddock during a Republican picnic event. Per the Detroit News’s reporting, Maddock recalled that Weiser had told Trump that he’s going to “pay close attention to what happens coming out of Arizona.”
Such an audit would have to be initiated by the GOP-controlled Michigan state legislature. An earlier investigation of the 2020 election by the state Senate Oversight Committee found no evidence to back up Trump’s claims of widespread fraud.
State lawmakers, well-connected Republicans and Trump have pushed for Arizona-style audits and other 2020-related actions across the country for months as they look to lend credence to the former president’s claims of a stolen election.
Just last week, Trump penned a letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) urging him to consider “decertifying” the results of the 2020 election in the state, which Biden won by about 12,000 votes. Since then, Raffensperger has publicly reaffirmed Biden’s victory.
Meanwhile, the news site Florida Politics reported this week that an influential Republican donor has promised to donate $100,000 to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) reelection effort if he meets with him to discuss an audit of the 2020 election.