Friday, January 21

Arizona Counties Find Less Than 200 Possible Voter Fraud Cases Among 3 Million 2020 Ballots | Arizona


Arizona County election officials have identified fewer than 200 cases of possible voter fraud among more than 3 million ballots cast in last year’s presidential election, undermining Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen election as his allies continue a disputed ballot review in the state’s most populous county.

The 182 cases identified by the Associated Press represent cases in which the issues were clear enough for officials to refer them for further review. So far, only four cases have led to charges, including those identified in a separate state investigation. No one has been convicted. No vote was counted twice.

More cases could emerge, but the numbers illustrate the implausibility of Trump’s claims that fraud and wrongdoing cost him the state. In the final, certified and audited results, Joe Biden won 10,400 more votes in Arizona than Trump out of 3.4 million cast.

The AP’s findings align with previous studies showing that voter fraud is rare. Numerous security measures are built into the system to prevent and detect it.

“The fact is, election officials across the state are very interested in helping ensure the integrity of our elections and the public’s confidence in them,” said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Democrat. “And part of that involves taking potential electoral fraud seriously.”

Of the four Arizona cases that resulted in criminal charges, two involved Democratic and two Republican voters.

The AP review supports statements made by state and local election officials, as well as Republican county officials and Gov. Doug Ducey, that the Arizona presidential election was safe and its results valid.

Still, the Arizona Republican-led state Senate has been conducting a “forensic audit” in Maricopa County, which covers Phoenix, for months. The effort has been discredited by election experts and faced bipartisan criticism, but some Republicans, including Trump, have suggested it will uncover widespread fraud.

“This is not a massive problem,” said Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw the Maricopa County elections office during the 2020 election and lost his bid for reelection. “It is a lie that has developed over time. It has been fueled by conspiracy theorists. “

The AP counted the potential cases after sending public records requests to every county in Arizona. Eleven out of 15 did not report potential cases. Most of the cases identified involve people who voted for a family member who died or people who tried to cast two votes.

An electoral integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office created in 2019 has been reviewing potential fraud cases. A spokesman for the attorney general, Mark Brnovich, told the AP in April that the unit had 21 active investigations, although he did not specify whether they were all from last fall. A month later, the office accused a woman of voting on behalf of her dead mother. A spokesperson declined to provide an update this week.

Maricopa County has identified only one case of possible fraud out of the 2.1 million votes cast. That was a voter who could have cast their vote in another state. The case was sent to the county attorney’s office, which referred it to the state attorney general.

Virtually all of the cases identified by county officials are in Pima County, home to Tucson, and involved voters attempting to cast two votes. The Pima Recorder’s Office has a practice of referring all cases with even a hint of fraud to prosecutors for review, something the state’s other 14 county recorders do not.

Pima officials referred 151 cases. They did not refer 25 of the voters older than 70 because there was a higher probability that those errors were the result of memory lapses or confusion, not criminal intent, an official said. None of the 176 duplicate votes was counted twice.

An unusually high number of people appeared to have intentionally voted twice, often by early voting in person and then by mail. Pima County Deputy Recorder Pamela Franklin pointed to several factors, including concerns about delays at the US Postal Service.

Additionally, Trump at one point encouraged voters who cast their mail-in ballots early to report to their polling places on Election Day and vote again if poll workers were unable to confirm that their mail-in ballots had been received.

The results in Arizona are similar to the first finds in other battlefield states. Wisconsin officials identified just 27 potential cases of fraud out of 3.3 million votes cast last November, according to records obtained by the AP.

The AP conducted the review after months of Trump and his allies asserting without evidence that he won the 2020 election. His allegations of widespread fraud have been rejected by election officials, judges, election security officials and even his own attorney general.

Still, supporters repeat them and state lawmakers have cited them as justification for stricter voting rules.

In Arizona, Republicans have used the unsubstantiated claims to justify the unprecedented review of the Maricopa County elections and to pass legislation that could make it harder for infrequent voters to automatically receive ballots by mail.


www.theguardian.com

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