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Politics Pro-Trump Republicans are flocking to site of partisan Arizona ballot audit

02:50  11 june  2021
02:50  11 june  2021 Source:   nbcnews.com

Maricopa County's partisan ballot review in final stages

  Maricopa County's partisan ballot review in final stages The audit won't change the 2020 election results, but it has inspired conservatives in other battleground states to call for similar recounts.Earlier this year, Arizona Senate Republicans took possession of the ballots and 400 election machines by subpoena. Arizona had already audited its ballots and election equipment and found no issues with the 2020 election results. President Biden won the state by 10,457 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Arizona since 1996.

Ever since Arizona Republicans began their review of 2.1m ballots from the 2020 election, a huge question has loomed over the effort: who exactly is paying for it? We also reviewed messages among audit supporters on the Telegram app in which they pushed Arizona senate officials to hire Jovan Pulitzer, a treasure hunter and inventor, and to use his technology in the review. The effort appears to have worked – Pulitzer’s equipment is reportedly being used to examine the quality of ballot paper, including searching for bamboo fibers in an effort to prove a baseless conspiracy theory that ballots

Since Arizona Republicans started their 2 exam , 1 million ballots from the 2020 election, a huge question hovered over the effort: who exactly is paying for this? We also looked at the messages among supporters of the audit on the Telegram app in which they pushed Arizona Senate officials to hire Jovan Pulitzer, a treasure hunter and inventor, and to useize its technology in the exam. The effort appears to have worked - Pulitzer's equipment is said to be used to examine the quality of the ballots , including research into bamboo fibers in an effort to prove a baseless conspiracy theory that the

Republican lawmakers and officials from at least seven states have toured or plan to tour the site of the ongoing partisan ballot review in Arizona as former President Donald Trump continues to spread the lie that his loss was the result of fraud.

a group of people performing on stage in front of a building © Provided by NBC News

The Republicans who have made the trip are among the most pro-Trump in their states, and the visits come as far-right media personalities and lawmakers have joined in the former president's call to expand such reviews to locales outside of Maricopa County.

On Thursday, a Washington Post reporter spotted Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks taking a tour of Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, where the Republican-backed review of Maricopa County's election results has slogged on for more than a month. Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, who just lost her bid to be the GOP gubernatorial nominee in her state, toured the facilities on Thursday, as well.

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This audit is instead being driven by Republicans in the state Senate, perpetuating the falsehood that the 2020 election was filled with widespread voter fraud -- and thus stolen from former President Donald Trump . The audit , which began last week, has continued amid court hearings and questions over Since the election, Trump and his allies have been peddling lies and distrust in the 2020 results, and specifically in Maricopa County, which has a long history of bipartisan, public faith in its mail-in ballots and overall election security. There was little expression of election faith from the ballot counting

The Republican -controlled Senate in the state has provided 0,000 of government funds for the audit , which is likely to cost much more. This is where the right-wing dark money donors come in. At least 0,000 of the funding for the spurious audit comes from a 501(c)(4) — a designation given Former CEO of Overstock.com Patrick Byrne, now well-known for his off-color and passionate support of Trump , also led an effort promoted by Arizona Senate Republicans to raise .8 million for the review effort. Byrne claims that he himself contributed million toward the Fund the Audit campaign

"Thank you AZ Senator Wendy Rogers for the warm welcome," she tweeted Wednesday along with the hashtag "#auditeverystate."

The GOP-controlled Arizona state Senate authorized the review of ballots and hired a private company called Cyber Ninjas to conduct it after President Joe Biden flipped the state blue for the first time in decades.

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman visited to the coliseum this week. Georgia state Sens. Burt Jones and Brandon Beach made the trip on Tuesday seeking "a blueprint for a statewide forensic audit" in the Peach State, according to a conservative radio host.

Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones visited Wednesday, criticizing Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, for his failure to do the same.

Company at heart of Arizona's election 'audit' exists mostly in virtual reality

  Company at heart of Arizona's election 'audit' exists mostly in virtual reality Cyber Ninjas, the company running Arizona Senate's controversial election 'audit,' is one man - Doug Logan - whose spouting of debunked conspiracy theories about 2020 election fraud may bring him more such 'audits' in other states.In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers from at least 16 states have flocked to Phoenix for a first-hand look at a controversial, partisan "audit" of the 2020 vote in Arizona's largest county.

Trump and allies have claimed, without evidence, there was fraud in Maricopa county. But the county has already conducted two separate audits of the 2020 election and found no irregularities. The Republican decision to continue to investigate the results, months after they were certified by both county and state “At this point, additional audits will have little value other than to stoke conspiracy theories and partisan gamesmanship – or worse,” the groups, which included the Carter Center in Atlanta and the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in a letter to the Arizona senate earlier this month.

On Wednesday, a member of the Arizona election audit team that has been heavily touted by former President Donald Trump revealed that its examination of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County will include a “forensic” analysis of ballots to determine if the paper is made of bamboo—in order to determine whether or not China delivered tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots If that sounds much too crazy for an audit that was initiated by the Republican -led Arizona Legislature and whose communications are being spearheaded by the Republican former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, it very much is not.

Randy Pullen, a spokesman for the review and former chair of the Arizona GOP, told NPR that Nevada GOP officials visited the ongoing count on Monday while lawmakers from Wisconsin may visit this week. Audit officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.


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The string of appearances followed a visit last week from a trio of Pennsylvania state senators — Doug Mastriano, Cris Dush and Rob Kauffman, who afterward called for a similar review to take place in their state. Their visit was followed Friday by Trump calling on the Pennsylvania Senate to "conduct a full forensic audit" of the 2020 vote or "there is no way" GOP state Senate leaders "will ever get re-elected!"

Trump's statement came after a key Pennsylvania state House Republican said his chamber would not initiate a new audit, saying Republicans there, as is the case is legislatures across the country, are focused on altering election laws after last fall's vote.

OAN correspondent who is covering the Arizona election audit has been aiding the effort since at least December, documents show

  OAN correspondent who is covering the Arizona election audit has been aiding the effort since at least December, documents show The Trump-approved network has also been given primary access to livestream the much-maligned audit.Audit-related documents requested and published by The Center for Public Integrity and watchdog We Are Oversight reveal that Christina Bobb, host of "Weekly Briefing" on OAN was supplying Arizona Senate President Karen Fann with witness declarations, statements, and expert testimony in early December to help bolster the Republican-led effort to undermine election results in Maricopa County, where President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump by 45,000 votes.

"They were done," audit spokesman and former GOP state chair Randy Pullen told USA Today on Tuesday. "They didn’t want to come back." Wake TSI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Since 23 April, companies like Wake and others have been running what amounts to a The Maricopa County board of supervisors, the majority of them Republicans , objected to the campaign, noting that the state’s votes had already been audited numerous times. The Department of Justice has also expressed concerns that handing over sensitive materials like ballots to private companies could

Lawyers for the Trump campaign have dropped a lawsuit seeking a review of all ballots cast on Election Day after finding that the margin of victory for the presidential contest in Arizona could not be overcome.

"The PA House of Representatives will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election," state Rep. Seth Grove, who chairs the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee, tweeted. "We are focused on fixing our broken election law to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

Mastriano, Eastman, Vernon Jones, Hanks and Chase all participated in pro-Trump events in Washington, D.C., that preceded the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The Arizona visits come as efforts to review last fall's election persist in multiple swing states, with the review of more than 2 million Maricopa County ballots at its center despite prior audits finding no evidence of fraud.

"I think that people in other parts of the country should be looking at what's going on in Arizona as an example of what not to do," Bill Gates, a Maricopa County supervisor who helps oversee elections, told NBC News in a recent interview. A lifelong Republican, Gates is among the review's most outspoken GOP critics.

Voter fraud in American elections is exceedingly rare. Trump's top cybersecurity official called the 2020 election "the most secure in American history," while then-Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread malfeasance.

In Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and other presidential battlegrounds, post-election audits or recounts — in some cases, multiple such reviews — have affirmed Biden's win. But those who still question last fall's vote say those recounts did not go far enough.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said the partisan ballot review in her state is effectively creating a roadmap for Republicans elsewhere to undermine election results they don't like.

"They are definitely writing the playbook here in Arizona to bring this type of, I don't want to call it an audit, but to other states," Hobbs told NBC News in a recent interview. "And it's dangerous. It's continuing to undermine the integrity of our elections. We are now more than six months past the 2020 election. We know that it was secure and that the results reflected the will of voters accurately."

Trump Threatens Pennsylvania State Lawmakers Resisting Election Audit: 'Will Be Primaried' .
"Are they stupid, corrupt, or naive? What is going on?" Trump said in a statement."Why is State Senator Jake Corman of Pennsylvania fighting so hard that there not be a Forensic Audit of the 2020 Presidential Election Scam? Corman is fighting as though he were a Radical Left Democrat, saying that a Forensic Audit of Pennsylvania not take place," Trump said in a statement.

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