- - Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Just because the 2020 presidential election results were fraught with suspicious irregularities doesn’t mean the next one needs to be. Little by little, look-backs are lifting the lid on events that put Joe Biden in the White House. Because voter integrity is essential in a free society, Americans should welcome a process that may be politically explosive, but one that ensures that their votes count.

In Arizona’s Maricopa County, where Joe Biden trailed Donald Trump 44-48% pre-election but came out on top by 2%, a hand recount of 2.1 million ballots and examination of tabulation machines are underway by order of the state Senate, nearly six months after Election Day.

The laborious recount, which Republicans support and Democrats intend to derail, is meant to uncover miscounts, particularly in the handling of a flood of suspect mail-ins that have been the subject of vote integrity anomalies across the nation. If the process verifies the November totals, Arizonans can head to the polls next time with confidence in their tabulation process.

Despite coronavirus concerns that led to widespread relaxation of voter identification rules in 2020, Americans still consider it more important to prevent voter fraud than make balloting easier. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 62% of respondents believe voter ID laws do not discriminate, while 29% disagree. Disturbingly, 51% believe it likely that cheating affected the result of the presidential election.

Nagging suspicions over whether certain pandemic-related developments may have degraded ballot integrity, including the funding of public elections with private money, shouldn’t simply be written off. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dispersed $350 million through the Center for Tech and Civic Life to election officials across the U.S. for such purposes as reaching out to voters, boosting staff and placing ballot drop boxes. Other moguls also contributed.

Maricopa County reportedly received $3 million, one of around 2,500 jurisdictions nationwide benefiting from the grants, which ranged between $5,000 and $19 million. With more than 10,000 election administration jurisdictions nationwide, critics claim the awards favored blue strongholds, giving Democrats an unfair advantage.

In Arizona, nine of the state’s 15 counties received funds. Four broke for Mr. Biden, and five favored Mr. Trump. With 2.5 times as many votes recorded as the other eight counties combined, though, Maricopa County was the prize that made Arizona Biden country.

The public rightfully fears that funds donated by the wealthy, distributed inequitably, could tilt elections. That’s why Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed into law earlier this month a sensible measure banning the use of grants from private sources for public elections. Other states should do the same.

If the nation is to regain a more stable political footing, election irregularities should be probed everywhere they surface. Only when fraud claims have been proved factually false — or verified and corrected — can Americans have confidence their leaders are chosen honestly.

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