Friday, September 24, 2021

Preliminary AZ Fraudit Results Are In

I have been interested in the election challenge conducted by Maricopa County, Arizona, Republicans. Well, I was born in Phoenix, grew up there, I have some ideas about the place. When I grew up it was Goldwater's town, and both the newspapers were bizarrely conservative -- there just wasn't any other point of view. At some point some of us realized how crazy it was, lots of people moved there from more sensible places, and some residents were exposed to points of view from outside the Valley of the Sun, and there are today a few clear-thinking people in the county. But even today the tone is set by those crusty desert-rats who live in trailers out by Apache Junction or Gila Bend, or near the Superstition Mountains, sitting under an awning in the hundred-ten-degree heat watching a little black and white TV with rabbit ears, and shooting at intruders.

It would have been no surprise at all if Trump had won Arizona, including the big-city capital of Phoenix, in the 2020 election. It woulda been a yawner, the most expectable thing in the world. "AZ" would have gone on an alphabetized list with other red states with no explanation required.

You might remember the flurry when Fox News, of all the networks, called Arizona for Biden on election night. Trump literally got on the phone to Rupert Murdoch and told him to take it back. It was a close race and still early in the evening when Fox painted Arizona blue. Nobody understood it, but Fox stood by it and many hours later the other networks confirmed the call.

Arizona went blue and Maricopa County, being by far the most populous part of the state, led the charge. Tucson was no surprise but ... again, you cannot imagine how deeply conservative Phoenix has always been.

The Republican nutty fringe, which is mainstream in that region, decided to challenge the election results with an "audit." Actually they were not only challenging the results, but were challenging the whole idea of voting, the idea of democracy. Trump should have won, because Trump should have won. Who cares if a bunch of dumb voters feel otherwise? Destiny cannot be diverted by something as trivial as an election.

The Maricopa County fraudit, as it is more appropriately called, violated every principle of rigorous research. They started with a conclusion -- Trump won and the election was stolen from him -- and worked back, looking for incriminating evidence, chasing down every paranoid rumor. I won't review the whole process here, but it was ... ugly. Oh and then remember, when they were going to issue the report they all caught covid and it was delayed.

This morning the Washington Post reports that they got a draft of the final report, pretty close to what will come out officially this week.

And guess what: fraudit results agree that Biden won the county. In fact, these jokers estimated that Biden won by an even greater margin than the official count. It was not a great difference, 360 more votes, but still.

A Republican-commissioned review of nearly 2.1 million ballots cast last year in Arizona confirmed the accuracy of the official results and President Biden’s win in Maricopa County, according to a draft report prepared by private contractors who conducted the recount.

After nearly six months and almost $6 million — most of it given by groups that cast doubt on the election results — the draft report shows that the review concluded that 45,469 more ballots were cast for Biden in Maricopa County than for Trump, widening Biden’s margin by 360 more votes than certified results.

The draft report found the count to have “no substantial differences” from the county’s certified tallies.

Draft report of GOP-backed ballot review in Arizona confirms Biden’s win

You know the saying, "Garbage in, garbage out" -- there is absolutely nothing meaningful about the result of the Maricopa County fraudit. It does not mean that Biden "actually" got more votes than the official tally. They just could not come up with any way to twist the data so that Trump won.

About the only conclusion you can take from this is that the grifters who soaked the county for millions of dollars did not feel obligated to make the customer happy. They were like dowsers who did not find water, but got paid anyway. Does that make them "honest?" Of course not, everything about this, from the premise to the data-collection to the analysis, was dishonest. It never should have been done. The election was fine as it was.

The whole point of this was to undermine the public's confidence in the democratic process. Now other Republican-run states want to do the same thing, as we see them trying to destroy one of the most successful representative democracies in the history of mankind. It would be nice if this discouraged them, but they're not smart enough for that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Passing of Pat O'Neill

We want to take a minute here to express our appreciation for Patricia O'Neill, Montgomery County School Board member for twenty-three years, who passed away this week at the age of 71. Pat was a true friend of the county who always took her position on the school board seriously; she put time and effort into digging into the topics that faced the board, to see what was really behind them, what the options were, and what the consequences of the options would be. Other board members regarded her as the unofficial "historian" for the school board, as she could explain, off the top of her head, the background of every policy issue that came up.

Our group, Teach the Facts, formed when MCPS came under attack for its new sex-ed curriculum, and we worked with the school board and administration to make sure they understood that the Sturm und Drang of the rightwing rabblerousers was not representative of our community. Conservatives spent a lot of money to see that our county kids didn't learn about gay or transgender people, and we really relied on the courage of the school board to steer the district into a good, healthy direction that a majority of residents and parents wanted.

Pat was an unshakable ally through it all. She was not partisan but considered each issue rationally, and in the case of the sex-ed curriculum she was a solid advocate for comprehensive sex education and the inclusion of relevant and important facts. Her top priority was always the students, and she defended students who came from nontraditional families and also wanted to ensure that other students understood that some of their friends may have a single parent, or step-parents, or parents of the same sex. She also empathized with students who might be gay or transgender and supported the inclusion of material to help them understand themselves, and to help their friends understand them. These changes met with loud, high-profile resistance but Pat and the school board stood their ground and we are all better off for it.

Pat's statements during the board's public comment sessions were wry and insightful, and respectful, no matter what point of view was being expressed. For instance, when a parent once complained that the district did not have enough teachers to teach the new material, Pat thanked them and said she hoped that they would actively work to help increase the district's budget, so they could hire more teachers.

Pat O'Neill served five one-year terms as board president, and six terms as vice-president. Her death is a big loss to the county and she will be missed for a long time.