Republican-funded Arizona election review confirms Biden defeated Trump

Texas also announced an audit of 2020 election in some counties after a request by former president Trump

Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden in Arizona's most populous county, a review of results by his allies in the Republican Party has reaffirmed, capping a widely panned effort spurred by the former president's claims of voter fraud.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, the Republican who paved the way for the so-called full forensic audit of Maricopa County's ballots, said the review's overall vote tally matched the initial results confirming Mr Biden's win.

Ms Fann said in a statement the matching counts was the review's "most important and encouraging finding" and should allay voters' concerns.

The recount yielded 99 additional votes for Mr Biden and 261 fewer votes for Mr Trump.

The conclusion will disappoint Trump supporters who had pushed for the review, many in the expectation that it would prove his unfounded assertions that he was robbed of re-election due to orchestrated fraud.

So far no such proof has been produced either by Mr Trump or his backers.

Texas on Thursday said it was starting an audit of the 2020 election results in four of the state's largest counties shortly after a request by Mr Trump, who continues to claim the election was stolen.

Maricopa County announced what it said were the main findings on its Twitter feed late on Thursday, saying the 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 recount was primarily carried out by Florida-based cyber security firm Cyber Ninja, whose chief executive has promoted "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theories about orchestrated fraud in the election.

Mr Trump also has claimed that voting fraud and irregularities cost him electoral votes in Arizona.

Officials confirmed that the $150,000 inquiry found no evidence of election fraud. Previously, state officials said the inquiry was largely based on conspiracy theories or misinterpretation of election procedures.

Elsewhere, Texas election officials said on Thursday night they were auditing the 2020 results in four large counties hours after Mr Trump pressed Republican Governor Greg Abbott for a ballot review.

Mr Trump won Texas last year by 5.5 percentage points, the closest margin of victory by a Republican presidential nominee in decades.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office did not say what prompted the announcement in an evening news release. This year, Keith Ingram, the office’s elections administrator, said the 2020 elections in Texas were “safe and secure.”

The audited counties will include the major Democratic strongholds around Houston and Dallas, as well as Tarrant County, which for years has been the largest Republican-controlled county in Texas but went for Mr Biden last year.

Mr Trump called on Mr Abbott to conduct an audit of the Texas election in a statement, saying “your citizens don’t trust the election system".

Election experts predict the Maricopa report could misinterpret normal election procedures to claim something nefarious or elevate minor mistakes into major allegations of wrongdoing.

“They’re minor procedural issues, and to try and amplify them to the point where they cast doubt on the election is nothing more than sore loserism,” said David Becker, a former lawyer in the US Department of Justice voting section who founded the Centre for Election Innovation and Research.

Quote
They’re minor procedural issues, and to try and amplify them to the point where they cast doubt on the election is nothing more than sore loserism
David Becker, lawyer

After Trump supporters focused on the use of sharpie pens on ballots and the state election board proving those marks would not lead to ballots being rejected, nearly every other allegation made by the review team so far has crumbled under scrutiny.

“Every time Trump and his supporters have been given a forum to prove this case, they have swung and missed,” said Ben Ginsberg, a longtime Republican election attorney and vocal critic of Mr Trump’s push to overturn the election.

The unprecedented partisan review – focused on the vote count in Arizona's largest county, Maricopa – is led and funded largely by people who already believe Mr Trump was the true winner, despite dozens of lawsuits and extraordinary scrutiny that found no problems that could change the outcome. They’ve ignored the detailed vote-counting procedures in Arizona law.

Despite being widely mocked, the Arizona review has become a model that Trump supporters are eagerly pushing to replicate in other swing states where Mr Biden won.

Pennsylvania's Democratic attorney general sued on 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.

No matter what the reviews in Arizona and elsewhere purport to find, they cannot reverse Mr Biden's victory.

Updated: September 26th 2021, 8:58 AM
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