PHOENIX (AP) – A draft report of an election review in Arizona’s largest county by supporters of former President Donald Trump revealed that President Joe Biden did indeed win the 2020 race there, an embarrassing end to a bizarre quest to find evidence to support Trump’s false claim that he lost to fraud.
The final report was due for release on Friday, the result of a month-long partisan review funded in part by taxpayers. The draft circulated Thursday night, showing the results of the chaotic manual count of examining all of the 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located. The tally in the draft document showed a net gain of 360 votes for Biden over the official results.
The Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office provided the draft to the Associated Press. Republican Senate Speaker Karen Fann said in a text message that the document was “a draft from three days ago that leaked” but did not dispute its authenticity. She wouldn’t say if the vote count in the project changed over the course of the week, saying she signed a nondisclosure agreement.
Regardless of the final report tally, it does not affect official and certified Maricopa County or Arizona reports. Previous reviews by non-partisan professionals who have followed state law have found no significant issues with the election.
Yet for many critics, the project’s tally underscored the dangerous futility of the exercise, which helped fuel voter skepticism about the elections and spawned mock audits nationwide.
“It was an audit in which they absolutely cooked the procedures”, said Ben Ginsberg, a prominent Republican electoral lawyer. “It was Donald Trump’s best chance to prove his case of rigged and fraudulent elections, and they failed.”
The Maricopa County government is controlled by a majority Republican council, which has condemned the review as a scam. Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw the Maricopa County electoral office in the 2020 election, said political noise was the real focus of the review.
“They try to scare people into doubting that the system really works”, he said. “This is their motivation. They want to destroy public confidence in our systems.
The draft claims a number of shortcomings in electoral procedures, suggests that the final tally still cannot be invoked, and recommends several changes to state law. But the review had previously made a series of false allegations that have since been withdrawn about how the elections were run in Maricopa County.
“Sadly, the report is also littered with errors and flawed conclusions about how Maricopa County conducted the 2020 general election,” county officials said on Twitter.
Election officials say it’s because the review team is biased, has no experience in the complex field of election audits, and ignored detailed vote counting procedures in Arizona law.
Two of the project’s recommendations stood out because they showed that its authors misunderstood electoral procedures – that there should be safeguards for paper ballots and that voting machines should not be connected to the Internet. . All of Arizona’s ballots are already paper, with machines used only to count the votes, and no electoral equipment is ever connected to the Internet.