A review of the 2020 election results in Arizona done by supporters of former President Donald Trump verified that Joe Biden won the state in last year’s presidential election despite months of accusations of fraud.
The partisan “audit” of populous Maricopa County at the behest of the Arizona state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, was both conducted and funded by pro-Trump organizations. Maricopa County is where most Arizonans live, and the results there had already been certified by the GOP-controlled board of supervisors, as well as the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state.
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers released a statement Thursday evening saying you didn't have to dig deep into the draft copy of the audit report to know that the candidates previously certified as victors — including Biden and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly — "did, in fact, win."
"This means the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters,” Sellers said. “That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise. But I’m sure it won’t be. Board members told the truth in the face of angry phone calls and emails fueled by a coordinated campaign to shake Americans’ faith in the power of their vote. Will they accept the truth now?"
“I hope those holding on to their anger for the past ten months will see the truth and put their energy into supporting the democratic process instead of trying to tear it down,” Sellers concluded.
A spokesperson for the audit confirmed to KJZZ Phoenix that the draft circulating was valid, saying, “It’s not the final report, but it’s close.” The report is expected to be confirmed and made public Friday afternoon.
Biden narrowly won Arizona in November, becoming the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton took the state in 1996. On Nov. 30, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, certified the results of the presidential election after receiving approval from county officials and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is also a Republican. In January, the Maricopa County supervisors authorized an audit of the election equipment, and no irregularities were found.
This did not stop the state Senate from authorizing a new partisan audit, with the Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas beginning the counting on April 23. CEO Doug Logan said he expected it to take 16 days, but the process dragged out through the end of summer. Cyber Ninja contractors have, among other things, inspected the ballots for traces of bamboo, which supporters of the audit say would prove they were smuggled from China.
“There’s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown into Arizona and it was stuffed into the box, OK?” said John Brakey, who was helping oversee the process, in an interview with a local CBS affiliate earlier this year. “And it came from the southeast part of the world, Asia, OK? And what they’re doing is to find out if there’s bamboo in the paper.”
Logan, who was hired to conduct the audit by the GOP-controlled state Senate, pushed false claims of fraud in the 2020 election and was working with Trump’s allies to overturn the election results as early as last November. Funding for the operation has come almost exclusively from supporters of Trump who believe the election was stolen.
The process was so sloppy that professional auditors said that even referring to the process as an audit was inaccurate. In May, the state Senate accused Maricopa officials of deleting a database so the firm couldn’t access it, but days later it was revealed that the information was there and the Cyber Ninja staff did not know how to read it.
The draft report was due last month but was delayed when members of the team contracted COVID-19. According to the Arizona Republic, the count actually found a wider margin for Biden than the official results, with much of the draft appearing to minimize “the ballot counts and election results and instead focus on issues that raise questions about the election process and voter integrity.”
The fairgrounds where the count was being done became a pilgrimage site for Republicans from around the country who wanted to conduct similar reviews in their own states. Trump had touted the process throughout as set to finally provide evidence for his conspiratorial claims that the election was stolen from him, including in a statement late Thursday in which he said, “Everybody will be watching Arizona tomorrow to see what the highly respected auditors and Arizona State Senate found out regarding the so-called Election!”
Polls indicate that most Republicans believe Trump’s claims about the 2020 election, despite an absence of evidence. A Yahoo News/YouGov survey released last month found that 66 percent of Republicans continue to insist that “the election was rigged and stolen from Trump,” while just 18 percent believe “Joe Biden won fair and square.”
The conspiracy theory about the 2020 election being stolen has had real-world consequences, starting with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that resulted in multiple deaths and Trump’s impeachment. Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have passed restrictions since last November that make it more difficult to vote, arguing that they are necessary to restore faith in elections that they themselves have undermined. A number of Republicans who have stated they believe the election was stolen are now running for the top election offices in their states.
Cover thumbnail photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images
Read more from Yahoo News: