Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday mocked the recent 2020 election “audit” in Arizona’s Maricopa County while dismissing evidence-free claims of massive voter fraud in the election as “a ruse.”
Durbin made the remarks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Results from the Maricopa County audit, which was conducted by the inexperienced firm Cyber Ninjas at the behest of the Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate, were released on September 24 and did not uncover any evidence of massive election fraud.
Durbin, who chairs the committee, dismissed GOP efforts to combat non-exist massive fraud by passing restrictive voting bills at the state level, specifically denouncing the controversial legislation that Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law after a partisan standoff in August. Durbin also mocked the firm that conducted the Maricopa audit by referring to them as the “Ninja Turtles”—a reference to the fictional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“Supporters of the [Texas] bill, and we’ve heard it this afternoon in the committee, claim you’ve got to do it, it’s the only way to stop voter fraud,” Durbin said. “So, the Texas attorney general spent 22,000 hours looking for evidence of fraud. You’d think they really would have made their case. What they found to try to justify [the bill] was the following: Only 16 potential cases of fraud out of 17 million registered voters.”
“And you remember what happened in Arizona,” he added. “$5.7 million spent on the Ninja Turtles, who were going through all of these ballots and the net result was more votes for Biden, fewer votes for Trump. So this notion of voter fraud is a ruse, as far as I’m concerned. Where there is fraud and waste, we should oppose it whatever party is trying to make an excuse for it. But in this case, there is no basis for it.”
A spokesman for Cyber Ninjas responded to Durbin calling the firm “the Ninja Turtles” in a statement to Newsweek: “That seems to fairly represent Senator Durbin’s usual level of getting things right.”
During his opening remarks at the hearing, Durbin lamented that “state lawmakers have already taken unprecedented steps to silence the voices of American voters,” noting that over 425 bills had been introduced at the state level that make voting laws more restrictive. By September 27, 19 states had enacted 33 laws that made it more difficult to vote, while 25 states had enacted 62 laws that expanded voting access in 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and other national voting rights bills favored by Democrats, such as the For the People Act, face severe challenges in getting passed through the Senate due a lack of Republican support and the upper chamber’s filibuster rule, which effectively requires 60 votes for advancement.