Buckle Up: Arizona Republicans To Present 2020 Recount Results | New policies
By JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) – Donald Trump supporters hired by Republicans in the Arizona Senate to examine the 2020 vote count are preparing to deliver their findings on Friday, the culmination of a bizarre quest to find evidence in the support for the former president’s false claim that he lost to fraud.
Almost all of the allegations made by the review team so far have collapsed under scrutiny. Arizona and nationwide election officials expect more of the same Friday from the review team they say is biased, incompetent, and chasing absurd or disproved conspiracy theories.
“Every time Trump and his supporters have been given a forum to prove this case, they have flipped and failed,” said Ben Ginsberg, a longtime Republican election lawyer and vocal critic of Trump’s pressure 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 Trump was the real winner, despite dozens lawsuits and an extraordinary review that did not find any issues that could change the outcome. They ignored Arizona law’s detailed counting procedures.
Although widely mocked, the Arizona review has become a model that Trump supporters are eager to replicate in other swing states where Biden has won. The Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General continued Thursday to block a subpoena issued by the GOP for a wide range of election materials. In Wisconsin, a retired conservative state Supreme Court judge is leading a Republicans-ordered inquiry into the 2020 election and this week threatened to subpoena election officials who do not comply.
In Arizona, five people are expected to publicly present the findings of two senior Republicans in the state Senate chamber, including Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity consultancy with no electoral experience. He led the review team despite his previous work to promote “stop the theft” electoral plots.
Shiva Ayyadurai, who has developed a loyal following for promoting COVID-19 disinformation on social media, will discuss his review of signatures on postal ballots. It is not known why he is qualified to do so. Ayyadurai, who is known as Dr Shiva to his fans, holds a PhD. but is not a doctor.
Ben Cotton, an expert in computer forensics, will present his analysis of vote counting machines. Cotton reconsidered his claim that a key electoral database had been deleted.
Ken Bennett, former Republican Secretary of State, and Randy Pullen, former Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, are also expected to speak. Both served as liaison between the Senate and the review team.
They have been quiet about their findings, but Bennett told a Tory radio host this week that he would “have a brief report on where Maricopa County has failed to come together and comply with laws. state and electoral procedures “.
The Republican-controlled Maricopa County Supervisory Board vehemently defended the vote count. Republican President Jack Sellers called the review a “fault disguised as an audit.” GOP Supervisor Bill Gates said Thursday that the review’s reliance on funding from Trump’s allies outside of the state means the findings will not be credible.
“The people who are funding this audit, the people who requested this audit, we all know what they want it to find,” Gates said. “They want him to find out Donald Trump won Maricopa County.”
The Senate agreed to spend $ 150,000 for the audit, plus security and installation costs. This is nothing compared to the nearly $ 5.7 million paid in late July by Trump allies.
Another county supervisor, Clint Hickman, has been the subject of a wacky conspiracy theory claiming that a fire that killed 120,000 chickens on his family’s egg farm west of Phoenix was a ruse to destroy evidence of Trump’s victory.
The Maricopa County vote count was conducted in front of bipartisan observers, as were the legally required audits to ensure the proper functioning of the voting machines. A partial hand count found a perfect match.
Two additional post-election examinations carried out by federally-accredited election experts also found no evidence that the voting machines changed votes or were connected to the Internet. The board of supervisors ordered extraordinary reviews in an attempt to prove to Trump supporters that there was no problem, but Senate Speaker Karen Fann and others supporting his partisan review were not convinced.
Election experts predict the report could misinterpret normal election procedures to claim something nefarious or elevate minor errors to major allegations of wrongdoing.
“These are minor procedural issues, and trying to magnify them to the point where they cast doubt on the election is nothing more than a sore loser,” said David Becker, a former lawyer in the section of vote of the US Department of Justice which founded the Center for Electoral Research and Innovation.
Biden won Maricopa County by 45,109 votes and Arizona by 10,457 votes. Minor procedural issues wouldn’t affect such a large margin, Becker said.
In July, Logan presented a series of complaints stemming from his misunderstanding of the election data he was analyzing, including the 74,000 mail-in ballots recorded as received but not sent. Trump has repeatedly amplified the claims. But they had innocuous explanations.
Friday’s report stems from a process that began almost a year ago. Trump and his allies, after their allegations of electoral fraud were repeatedly thrown out in the courts, frantically searched for a way to block certification of Biden’s victory on January 6. ballots in Maricopa County, the machines that counted them and a wealth of election data. They said they would use the documents to perform a “forensic audit”.
A court battle over the validity of the summons delayed delivery of the documents until April, three months after Biden took office. The review was supposed to take around 60 days, but has been postponed several times, most recently because Logan and four other members of his team contracted COVID-19.
The review has boosted Trump supporters who hope he will prove he was the rightful election winner and lead to his return to the White House, despite an extraordinary review finding no fraud that would affect the outcome of the election. There is no constitutional mechanism to overturn Biden’s certification of victory.
Fann, the Speaker of the Senate, said the review was not meant to overturn the 2020 election, but that it would find ways for the Legislature to improve electoral laws.
Even as the Arizona review nears the finish line, Trump supporters are pushing for a repeat in other swing states where Biden narrowly won, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Not all Republicans, even in the Senate, trust the test results.
“They’re going to have to justify their existence, so they’re going to have to come up with something,” GOP Senator Paul Boyer said Thursday. “And God knows what it is.”
Associated Press writer Bob Christie contributed.
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