Harry's Gang: Let's leave audits to accountants, examiners
October 1, 2021
The private audit in Arizona of the already audited vote tally was a predictable farce. It should surprise no one that nothing was uncovered. Even the report’s dubious insinuations were immediately debunked by the Maricopa County election officials (who are of the same party that paid for the audit, by the way).
When I balance my checkbook monthly, I use a calculator and years of learning from my mistakes to make sure my records reconcile with the bank records. Once a year my accountant reconciles the whole thing, as professionals do. Rarely is there enough money left over in my checking account to make me smile with glee — no, usually I have enough to pay my bills and maybe save a little for retirement, and that’s it. I consider myself fortunate. But I’m not going to hire an inexperienced, biased bookkeeper to revisit my work and audit the accountant in a feeble quest to find a little more money in my bank account, which I am sure I deserve, no matter what the experts at the bank say. I think I should have more money. Therefore, I will keep looking until I find it.
Sounds foolish, right? But suppose it was someone else who wanted to audit my bank records. Suppose the gas company, for example, thinks I should pay more for propane because they think I can afford it. If I allow them to audit my books, they are certainly hoping to find more money; that’s their stated goal. They aren’t actually trying to reconcile my books; they’re simply looking for errors, mistakes, or dubious expenditures that would benefit them. Their methods are unusual; far short of the “generally accepted accounting principles” that other auditors use. Will they find more money? Probably not.
But they will have had access to every penny I spent in the past year: information which is none of their business. And don’t be fooled by their promises to protect my sensitive data — they are certain to use that information against me. That check for $56 to Gordy’s Warming House? If I can afford to buy my kids’ lacrosse team ice cream after a game, I certainly can pay more for propane, they’ll argue. And they’ll try to raise my gas prices.
That’s the biggest fear I have after the Arizona audit. While the audit was conducted under the guise of “securing free and open elections,” it was really designed to privately analyze voter data in Arizona to make it easier to target certain voters, to make it easier for one party to win in the next election. For example, if they discovered that a huge number of people vote between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. and that most of those voted for the other guy, what do you think they will do at the next election? They’ll try to make it harder to vote between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. I can only imagine the data that $6 million in “audit” fees compiled. But I do know that Biden’s margin in Arizona was slim — just 10,000 votes or so; in Wisconsin, it was about 20,000 votes, and in Georgia it was under 13,000 votes. If party officials can suppress or affect just 10,000 votes next time, they may be able to win the next election.
The purpose of the Arizona audit was not to change the outcome of the last election; it was to learn how to make minor changes to affect the outcome of future elections. That’s dangerous.
We can’t allow election officials to become politicized. Secretaries of state, for example, should be following the laws rather than trying to influence elections. I was absolutely shocked when a former candidate called the Georgia secretary of state and seemed to expect that official to “find” a few more votes in his favor. It made me sick to think that an elected official, in charge of maintaining the integrity of elections (among other things), was corruptible. It turns out the official, Brad Raffensperger, wouldn’t budge. His integrity was too important to sacrifice, even if it meant his candidate (he was a Republican supporter of the last president) would lose his state. That’s admirable. I listened to the tape, and he sounded nervous, but he wouldn’t budge.
Many of the so-called voting reforms being proposed around the country are actually voter suppression tricks in disguise. When the officials in charge of elections — from both parties — conclude the past election was fair and honest, we are crazy to listen to the defeated side claim otherwise. The Arizona audit is evidence. But don’t think the crazy claims will stop there. No, I fear it is just going to get worse. We can’t let that happen.
Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News community newspaper and an attorney in Esko who hosts the cable access talk show Harry’s Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected].