The controversial audit of Maricopa County's 2020 presidential vote confirmed that Joe Biden won Arizona by thousands of votes in November, according to draft versions of a report on the hand count.
President Biden won the state thanks to strong numbers in Maricopa County. Former President Donald Trump and his allies falsely claimed there was widespread voter fraud in the election, and the GOP-led Arizona state Senate stepped in and initiated an audit of Maricopa County. They hired a company called Cyber Ninjas to carry out a hand recount of the county's votes, despite Cyber Ninjas having no experience with election audits. It took several months to complete the hand count, due to delays like a COVID-19 outbreak.
The final report from Cyber Ninjas will be released on Friday afternoon, but multiple drafts in circulation on Thursday show that the audit confirms Biden won Maricopa County and Trump lost, The Arizona Republic reports. Biden even ended up doing better with the new hand count — Maricopa County certified Trump losing by 45,109 votes, while the draft reports say he lost by 45,469 votes.
Still, the draft reports claim that the election results are inconclusive and offer recommendations on how the state can change its elections law. A draft viewed by the Republic "minimized" the ballot counts and focused instead on "issues that raise questions about the election process and voter integrity," the newspaper reports, raising red flags among several election analysts.
Throughout the purported audit, the GOP-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors stood by the county's certification of the election results and slammed efforts to paint it as fraudulent. In a statement, board Chairman Jack Sellers said the draft reports show that "the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters. That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise. But I'm sure it won't be. Board members told the truth in the face of angry phone calls and emails fueled by a coordinated campaign to shake Americans' faith in the power of their vote. Will they accept the truth now?"