Six months after Donald Trump’s defeat conspiracy theorists and backers of the former president are continuing their push for repeated examinations of ballots and finding limited successes.
A Georgia judge last week awarded a group the chance to review mail ballots in a large county that includes Atlanta.
Officials in a rural Michigan county on Tuesday debated a review of their voting machines, and a similar debate has caused sharp divisions in a New Hampshire town.
In some cases, the efforts have been inspired by an audit of the votes in Arizona’s Maricopa County, an elaborate exercise engineered by the Republican-led state Senate.
The efforts are unlikely to yield any new revelations about President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The votes have been counted — and often recounted — and certified by local officials.
Still, the lingering debate and legal wrangling have propelled suspicions and advanced debunked theories. And their sometimes misleading conclusions have been amplified by Mr Trump, whose false allegations of election fraud sparked the push.
The profusion of audits alarms election experts, who note that the Arizona audit has set a troubling new precedent of third-party, partisan review of the ballots, long after elections are over.
“This is bad enough to see it happen once,” Eddie Perez, an expert on voting systems at the OSET Institute, said of Arizona, but seeing it elsewhere in the country is “dangerous for democracy’.”
The audits are serving a clear political purpose in firing up the Republican Party’s base.
At a rally outside Phoenix last week featuring GOP representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, references to the Arizona audit drew much more enthusiastic applause than immigration, normally the top hot-button issue on the right in the border state.
In a statement on Monday night, Mr Trump criticised Republican Party leaders for not doing more about “what went on” in November.
He cited the ballot reviews underway and promised “more to follow.”