Republican legislators in North Carolina are pushing to inspect voting machines used in Durham County during the 2020 presidential election, in search of the invisible voter fraud that they insist exists, any proof of which has consistently eluded Republican officials across the country. It’s a project that will be popular in Trump circles, but in the larger picture, accomplishes nothing but to damage our state’s reputation and keep a popular lie in circulation.

Rep. Jeff McNeely, a North Carolina Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus, said he and other Republicans want to inspect the voting machines because of “many, many millions of accusations” of “machine tampering and votes being switched because of modems.”

This, despite the fact that North Carolina’s voting machines don’t have modems and can’t be connected to the internet. They’re designed so by law.

McNeely says he and other members of his group selected Durham County randomly, drawing the name from a hat.

Which is quite a coincidence, considering that the vast majority of Durham County’s votes went to Joe Biden in 2020 — and considering Republican legislators’ fruitless examination of Durham County’s ballots in 2016, which affirmed a preference for Gov. Roy Cooper over incumbent Pat McCrory.

McNeely says he’s already received approval from the people who supply the machines, and now he needs permission from the North Carolina Board of Elections and the county in question.

But none of those officials are amenable to such a baseless fishing expedition. “Unauthorized individuals who are not elections professionals have no authority to open and inspect voting equipment,” State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said in response to their request.

And after all, what’s the point? A partisan inspection conducted by biased, conspiracy-believing legislators isn’t going to sway anyone — nor should it.

Their request arrives just after the results of the faux-audit conducted in Maricopa County, Ariz., by the partisan Cyber Ninjas were released, concluding that Biden won by an even wider margin than originally thought — a result confirmed by Arizona’s Republican election officials.

None of that stopped former President Trump from claiming that the Maricopa County results proved the exact opposite.

Across the country, some Republicans continue to push Trump’s Big Lie, even to the point of threatening violence against election officials, and even though they’ve failed numerous times to prove their case in court. Their only evidence is hearsay and wild speculation that is immediately shot down by elections officials, many of them Republicans.

“Why not let them investigate?” some will ask.

There are many good reasons, among them that the election was investigated.

More than 150 Election Day precincts and 30 early voting sites were audited following the election, along with a dozen counties that audited all of their mail-in absentee ballots. No improprieties were found.

On the same day these legislators made their request, Jack Sellers, the Republican chair of Maricopa County’s board of supervisors, told the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee it was clear that some of the state’s Republican leaders “do not care what the facts are.”

“They just want to gain political power and gain money by fostering mistrust of the greatest power an individual can exercise in the United States — their vote,” he said.

We fear the same is true here.

Today’s editorial is from The Winston-Salem Journal. The views expressed are not necessarily those of this newspaper.