Karen Fann owns this farcical crusade to prove Trump isn’t a big loser

March 22, 2021 7:37 am

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Just when you thought the farce that is the Arizona Senate’s proposed audit of the 2020 election couldn’t be any more farcical, news comes about a hand recount conducted by volunteers that makes it impossible not to laugh at the sheer ineptitude of this entire unnecessary endeavor.

And that ineptitude only serves to highlight a fact that must not be lost sight of: This entire effort is in service of the lie that fraud led to Donald Trump’s defeat in November, and the audit is squarely aimed at finding the non-existent proof that will finally expose the “truth.” 

It isn’t aimed at finding the actual truth — which is that there was no massive fraud and Trump lost because he mismanaged a pandemic and alienated independents and moderate Republicans — but at verifying the alternate reality “truth” that Trump spent months injecting into his base.

One thing the audit certainly won’t be is the “big step in returning trust and confidence in our election process” as Senate President Karen Fann claims. 

Republicans calling for this audit keep braying about the need to “restore faith” in our elections, as though they aren’t responsible for that lack of faith — that they aren’t holding the gas can and matches used to set a pillar of our democracy ablaze or complicitly watching their peers lie about our elections.

If they truly cared about ensuring their voters trust the election, they’d be trumpeting the results of the two audits that Maricopa County conducted (which found no problems), the results of the hand-recounts state law already requires (which found 100% accuracy) and the outcomes of the pre- and post-election logic and accuracy testing (which the county’s machines aced).

There’s ample evidence that this is an unserious attempt to do anything but find a way to remove the stench of losing from Trump.

That much was clear when the Senate first subpoenaed the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County and all of the election equipment back in December following a six-hour legislative hearing in which the county’s election chief patiently explained the tremendous security measures in place and repeatedly dismantled conspiracy theories put forward by GOP lawmakers. The hearing was a formality, a box to tick by Fann and the election-arsonist members of her caucus to justify the subpoenas.

And then there’s the auditor that Fann wanted to hire: The company that not only spread, but invented, some of the very lies about the 2020 election that were serving as the basis for the audit in the first place. A company so buffoonish that its analysis mixed up two states and published an “audit” that started with the conclusion and then worked backward.

After the Senate won its legal fight with Maricopa County over the subpoenas, it was immediately obvious that Fann and her merry band of election truthers were unprepared to win. The dog finally caught the car it was chasing down the street and had no idea what to do next. 


The Senate had no plans to take possession of the ballots, the voting machines and all of the other materials it demanded. Instead, Fann continues to insist that everything will stay at the county elections office and that the Senate will conduct its work there — something the county says it has no intention of allowing. That just further highlights the unseriousness: The senators alleging fraud want to keep all the materials that ostensibly have evidence of that fraud with the people who they believe committed that fraud. 

Fann can’t say what the audit’s scope will be — or how it will be different from what the county already did — doesn’t have any auditor lined up (some six weeks after announcing an auditor had been hired) and won’t say who she’s considering. Now she wants to get completely different vote-counting machines and marshal an army of volunteers to hand-count all 2.1 million ballots, which is such a laughable idea that election professionals are still trying to pick their jaws up off the table.

“Hand counts are *fraught* with human error,” former state Election Director Amy Chan noted on Twitter.

There is “no way people will get accurate counts” in the hand recount, said Cochise County Election Director Lisa Marra, who called the whole idea “ridiculous.” 

“And then the conspiracy and fraud complaints will increase,” she wrote on Twitter. “Let #TheBigLie die. There is no widespread fraud.”

The sad reality is this: Karen Fann is too weak or too gullible or too ambitious to have done the right thing and stood up for our elections. While House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Trump-supporting Republican from Mesa, declared in early December that there was no evidence of fraud — “the Trump team made claims that the election was tainted by fraud but presented only theories, not proof,” he said — and he wouldn’t undermine our elections, Fann chose to cater to the so-called “Kraken Caucus” in the Senate.

Whether she really believes the Big Lie is irrelevant. She has irresponsibly used the Senate to weaponize ludicrously false claims about the election, empowered the delusional people in her caucus, forced every single Senate Republican to fall in line behind an effort to prove a deranged conspiracy theory, irreparably damaged faith in our elections and made a fool of herself.


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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.