© Reuters. A protester caries a “Trump 2020” flag as Arizona electors collect to forged their votes for the U.S. presidential election, on the Arizona Capitol, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., December 14, 2020. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
By Nathan Layne
(Reuters) -A partisan assessment of the 2020 presidential election commissioned by Arizona Republicans has confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump within the state’s most populous county, in response to a draft report of the assessment’s findings.
Maricopa County introduced what it stated had been the principle findings on its Twitter (NYSE:) feed late on Thursday, saying a draft report “confirms the county’s canvass of the 2020 General Election was accurate and the candidates certified as the winners did, in fact, win”.
The headline conclusion, if confirmed in an official announcement scheduled for afterward Friday, will possible disappoint supporters of Trump who pushed for the assessment, many within the expectation that it might show his baseless claims that he was robbed of victory in 2020 attributable to widespread fraud.
A big selection of election specialists, Democrats and even some Republican officers have rejected the audit as a extremely partisan boondoggle run by a contractors with out related experience who’re out to show that Trump gained final November, regardless of the information. The predominant contractor overseeing the operation is an obscure agency, Cyber Ninjas, whose chief has promoted conspiracy theories about fraud within the election.
“You don’t have to dig deep into the draft copy of the Arizona Senate/Cyber Ninja audit report to confirm what I already knew — the candidates certified by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General — did, in fact, win,” Maricopa County Board Chair Jack Sellers, a Republican, stated in a press release.
The outcomes of what the state lawmakers are calling a “forensic audit” into 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa, Arizona’s most populous county, are set to be revealed within the state Senate at 1 p.m. native time (4 p.m. Eastern/2000 GMT), 5 months after the Republican-led Senate launched the assessment.
An Arizona Senate spokesman, Mike Philipsen, didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the draft launched by the county.
Cyber Ninjas’ findings have been eagerly anticipated by Trump’s allies in his Republican Party, some of whom have been eager to make use of it to justify comparable “forensic” investigations in Pennsylvania, Michigan and different battleground states that Trump misplaced to Democratic President Joe Biden. Trump himself has predicted the audit would supply the proof to assist his fraud claims. So far no such proof has been produced both by Trump or his backers.
Biden beat Trump in Arizona by a margin of simply over 10,000 votes, a slim victory confirmed by a hand recount and a number of post-election checks for accuracy. Election officers in Maricopa, which incorporates Phoenix, additionally performed a separate audit that confirmed the vote was correct and safe.
The audit has been marked by practices that critics described as starting from inappropriate to weird, together with counters marking ballots with blue ink, which may alter how they’re learn by machines, and employees checking for traces of bamboo fibers based mostly on a conspiracy idea that solid ballots could have been shipped in from Asia.
The make-up of the audit’s monetary backers has additionally raised alarms. In June, Logan disclosed that outdoors teams tied to key boosters of Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election outcomes had raised greater than $5.7 million for the audit, far surpassing the $150,000 contributed by the Arizona Senate.
The assessment has cut up main Republicans within the state, with Trump loyalists pitted towards Maricopa County officers who’ve repeatedly defended the election outcomes as correct.
Prior to the report’s launch, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer issued a 38-page assertion criticizing the audit as “slipshod” and detailing why he believes the 2020 consequence was legitimate.
“Nobody stole Maricopa County’s election. Elections in Maricopa County aren’t rigged,” wrote Richer, a Republican who says he campaigned and voted for Trump.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, additionally launched a preemptive rebuttal, a 122-page assertion wherein she blasted the audit for delays and alleged lapses in safety, transparency and group.
Hobbs accused Cyber Ninjas of not understanding election procedures and stated their findings ought to be thought-about “invalid and unreliable”.
According to an advisory for the occasion, the audit staff will current the report to Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen, each Republicans who’ve spearheaded the election assessment. Media is not going to be allowed to ask questions on the listening to, which shall be livestreamed, it stated.
(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Soyoung Kim; Sonya Hepinstall and Alex Richardson)