The crazy history behind Arizona’s wacky presidential recount

It’s fair to say that politics in Arizona have always had an ornery streak.



May 24, 2021 - 7:51 AM

Back in 1910, when Arizona was still a territory, delegates drafted a proposed constitution and sent it to Washington for approval. Congress assented, but the draft was rejected by President Taft.

He was concerned about a provision allowing for the recall of judges. The document was amended to remove the offending language, and Taft approved statehood for Arizona in February 1912. Months later, residents of the newest U.S. state voted to put the recall provision back in the constitution.

So it’s fair to say that politics in Arizona have always had an ornery streak.

It was reflected in the irascibility of Barry Goldwater, who wrestled the Republican Party from its liberal Eastern wing and planted the future of the GOP firmly in the Sunbelt and conservative philosophy.

It was evident in the irrepressibility of John McCain, who bucked Republican Party leaders to make common cause with Democrats on campaign finance reform and other issues.

Over the last several decades there has been a good dash of peculiarity to Arizona’s politics as well.

A grifting governor impeached. A state Senate president recalled. Members of the GOP loudly pillorying Sens. Goldwater and McCain at home, even as the two became icons throughout the rest of the country.

The latest excursion into oddity and iconoclasm is the recount and audit of presidential ballots in Maricopa County, the state’s largest, in a vain search for proof that Joe Biden’s close but clear-cut Arizona victory over President Trump was a result of fraud.

Never mind that:

• Several previous audits upheld the accuracy of the vote count.

• Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, certified the state election results along with Arizona’s Republican attorney general and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, a Republican appointee.

• State and federal judges examined the allegations of fraud and found no supporting evidence.

• Biden would have won the presidency even without the state’s 11 electoral votes.

• The exercise will change nothing, whatever its alleged findings.

Duty must be served, and for many in today’s GOP that means soothing Trump’s wounded pride and indulging his baseless claims of electoral larceny.Throwing fiscal caution to the wind, Republicans who control the state Senate approved $150,000 for the recount, which is being conducted by a company whose chief executive promoted the lie that the election was stolen. More money is being raised by an anchor for the pro-Trump One America News Network, which has carried the proceedings live.