Vote review finds bigger Biden win

A draft report of the election review in an Arizona county found a wider margin of vote in favor of President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.


National News

September 24, 2021 - 4:19 PM

Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images/TNS)

PHOENIX (AP) — A draft report of the election review in Arizona’s largest county by supporters of former President Donald Trump found that President Joe Biden did indeed win the 2020 presidential contest there, an embarrassing end to a bizarre quest to find evidence supporting Trump’s false claim that he lost because of fraud.

The final report was scheduled to be released Friday afternoon, the result of a months-long partisan review funded in part by taxpayers. The draft document began to circulate Thursday night showing the results of the review’s chaotic hand count of all 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix. The tally in the draft document showed a net gain of 360 votes for Biden over the official results. 

The Maricopa County Attorney’s office provided the draft to The Associated Press. Republican Senate President Karen Fann said in a text message the document was “a leaked draft from three days ago,” but did not dispute its authenticity. She would not say if the vote tally in the draft had changed over the course of the week, saying she had signed a nondisclosure agreement. 

Whatever the final count cited in the report, it has no bearing on the official, certified reports in Maricopa County or Arizona. Two previous election reviews conducted by nonpartisan professionals according to industry standards also found that Biden won both.

Still, for many critics the draft’s tally underscored the dangerous futility of the exercise, which has helped fuel voter skepticism about elections and spawned copycats audits around the country. 

“This was an audit in which they absolutely cooked the procedures,” said Ben Ginsberg, a prominent Republican election attorney. “This was Donald Trump’s best chance to prove his case of the election being rigged and fraudulent and they failed.”

Maricopa County’s government is controlled by a Republican-majority board, which has condemned the review as a scam.

“This means the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters,” said Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican. “That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise.”

Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw the Maricopa County election office during the 2020 election, said that political noise is the true purpose of the review. 

“They are trying to scare people into doubting the system is actually working,” he said. “That is their motive. They want to destroy public confidence in our systems.”

The draft claims a number of shortcomings in election procedures, suggested the final tally still could not be relied upon and recommended several changes to state law. But the review previously made a series offalse allegations that have since been retracted about how the election was handled in Maricopa County.

“Unfortunately, the report is also littered with errors & faulty conclusions about how Maricopa County conducted the 2020 General Election,” Maricopa County officials said on Twitter.

Election officials say that’s because the audit team is biased, has no experience in the complex field of election audits and ignored the detailed vote-counting procedures in Arizona law. 

Two of the recommendations in the draft report stood out because they showed its authors misunderstood election procedures — that there should be paper ballot backups and that voting machines should not be connected to the internet. All Arizona ballots are already paper, with machines only used to tabulate the votes and no election equipment is ever connected to the internet. 

Despite being widely mocked, the Arizona review has become a model that Trump supporters are eagerly pushing to replicate in other swing states where Biden won. Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general sued Thursday to block a GOP-issued subpoena for a wide array of election materials. In Wisconsin, a retired conservative state Supreme Court justice is leading a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 election, and this week threatened to subpoena election officials who don’t comply.