(Trends Wide) — The partisan audit of the 2.1 million votes cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 election found a vote count nearly identical to what the county had previously reported, a draft report detailing its findings shows.
The draft report emerged the night before the state Senate Republicans who ordered the review and Cyber Ninjas, the firm that carried it out, detailed their findings with a public presentation and final report.
Maricopa County’s Republican-led board of supervisors pointed to the draft Thursday night, saying it underscores the reality that the county held an accurate election.
“You don’t have to delve into the preliminary copy of the Arizona Senate / Cyber Ninja audit report to confirm what I already knew: candidates certified by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, in effect, they won, ”Board Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, said in a separate statement.
“This means that the tabulation team counted the ballots as designed and the results reflect the will of the voters,” he said. “That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise. “
Audit spokesman Randy Pullen confirmed the validity of the preliminary report to KJZZ Phoenix. “It is not the final report, but it is close,” he said.
The draft report shows that manual recount found that President Joe Biden received 99 more votes than Maricopa County had reported after the November election, while former President Donald Trump received 261 fewer votes than reported by the county.
Election experts who observed the audit have warned for months that Cyber Ninjas’ count is likely to be inaccurate, noting that the company, its volunteers, and its subcontractors did not follow established election audit procedures, or sometimes their own. rules.
The months-long effort, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus millions more privately raised by Cyber Ninjas, did nothing to reinforce former President Donald Trump’s lies that widespread fraud cost him the 2020 election. .
“On the positive side, there were no substantial differences between the manual counting of the ballots provided and the official results of the County count. This is an important finding due to pre-audit concerns, ”says the executive summary.
The report, however, casts doubt on tens of thousands of ballots that Cyber Ninjas says it was unable to fully examine, such as inconsistencies when Maricopa County voter records were compared to records from a business data company. It includes strong caveats about those doubts, noting they don’t necessarily mean the votes were cast incorrectly, and says the Arizona attorney general should follow up with Maricopa County officials, who stopped cooperating with the Cyber Ninjas audit, to get answers. Throughout the audit, which lasted for months, county officials repeatedly rejected similar claims from Cyber Ninjas and its subcontractors.
“While many areas of concern were specifically identified, the full results of our audit validating the 2020 General Election are not necessarily conclusive,” says the report’s executive summary.
Maricopa County officials, who had seen the draft report, responded Thursday night noting the results, which were not substantially different from the final county count, and ruling out areas where Cyber Ninjas raised concerns in the draft report. .
“The Cyber Ninjas draft #azaudit report confirms that the county’s scrutiny of the 2020 General Election was accurate and that candidates certified as winners did indeed win,” the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said on its account. from Twitter.
“Unfortunately, the report is also riddled with errors and misconceptions about how Maricopa County conducted the 2020 General Election,” the board said. “Board members and election officials will pay close attention to what is said at the Senate hearing scheduled for Friday and share the facts as needed.”
The report also includes a number of recommendations for state legislators that could make voting difficult. Among them: voter roll purges linked to cross-checks with the USPS national address change, driver’s license changes, and those who might have moved from one county to another. They also target the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors with recommendations for criminal penalties for failing to cooperate with audits.
It targets Maricopa County officials who stopped cooperating, saying their refusal to provide information hampered the audit.
“Tomorrow I suspect that we will be charged once again with not cooperating, for not filling the gaps in the knowledge of the contractor chosen by the Senate. How could we cooperate with an investigation led by people who have no idea how to conduct an election, let alone one in America’s second-largest constituency? The Board approved the election plan, we hired and supported our election experts, and they produced successful and well-administered elections in accordance with Arizona law, ”Sellers said in his statement.
“Those experts will assimilate this draft and eventually the final report. As we have done before, we will correct your errors and misrepresentations about processes that you do not understand. I hope that those who have clung to their anger for the past ten months will see the truth and put their energy into supporting the democratic process rather than trying to tear it down. “