PHOENIX — The hand count of paper ballots done by the Maricopa County Forensic Auditors reveals President Joe Biden actually won by a wider margin against Donald Trump than the results from the official Maricopa County canvass.
The Cyber Ninjas’ count gave Biden 99 more votes, while Trump had 261 fewer votes in the forensic audit than he received in the County’s canvass. Biden’s margin of victory in Maricopa was 45,469 votes.
Watch the Friday presentation of the report in the player below.
The Cyber Ninjas hand-counted 2.1 million ballots. The group's final vote tally showed President Biden with 1,040,873 votes. Donald Trump had 995,404, and third party candidate Jo Jorgenson with 31,501 votes.
The forensic auditors did find what they believe are areas of concern.
The Cyber Ninjas compared Maricopa County voter files to commercial databases used by marketing companies. The purpose was to find perceived inaccuracies in the voter registration information. For example, did mail-in ballots come from a prior address or did someone vote in multiple counties?
Auditors believe nearly 34,000 ballots could fall into either of these categories. Nowhere does the audit suggest those votes went to one candidate over the other. In fact, the Cyber Ninjas report says there could be “legitimate and legal votes” within the ballots impacted.
Cyber Ninjas says it identified 9,041 voters who received an early ballot from the county, but county records indicate multiple ballots were returned in that person’s name. The Cyber Ninjas have several theories why this occurred, including data entry errors.
The Cyber Ninjas said the report states the discrepancies do not necessarily indicate voter fraud and it’s assumed only one ballot was counted per voter.
In its technical analysis of servers that store election data, the report cites deleted election files, corrupt ballot images, and the election management system database being purged. The auditors requested information related to those issues from Maricopa County on several occasions during the audit, but the County insists it turned over all the data contained in the servers. The report says had Maricopa County chosen to cooperate with the audit, the majority of these obstacles would have easily been overcome.
The Cyber Ninja report did not specifically point to any evidence of voter fraud. Still, it did make a list of recommendations including legislation that does not allow an election to be certified until the official canvas and final vote file is fully reconciled. It's a process which is already in place in Maricopa County.
The Cyber Ninjas are also calling for legislation creating an executive-level position that would conduct regular election audits. Another recommendation is to allow ballot images to become publicly available after an election.
The forensic audit was commissioned by the Arizona State Senate at a cost of $5.7 million. Most of the expense was paid for by private donations from people who believe the election was stolen.
The cost does not include the $2.8 million Maricopa County taxpayers will have to pay to replace election machines decertified by the Secretary of State after they were turned over to the audit.
The failure of the audit to find conclusive evidence of voter fraud is not stopping Senate Republicans. Senate President Karen Fann promised new legislation when lawmakers reconvene next year. Fann also sent a letter to Attorney General Mark Brnovich calling for an investigation into Maricopa County’s handling of the 2020 election and its refusal to co-operate with the auditors.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen went even farther. He says the Board of Supervisors may have broken the law. “What I have found most unsettling is the obstruction that we have seen from the County,” Petersen said. “The failure to comply with the auditor, a brazen willingness to violate the legal subpoenas our Attorney General said that was against the law. It’s truly alarming.”
Officials sound off
Elected officials on Friday began weighing in on the audit.
“This means 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,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers said.
Republican State Senator Paul Boyer also sounded off, calling the audit "embarrassing."
"Who wouldn’t support an audit? But the way they’re doing it, it’s embarrassing. It makes me embarrassed to be a state senator at this point...I feel like we’re in this fantasy land. I still have yet to see any evidence [of fraud], and I don’t think it’s coming.”
"Botched" was the way Republican State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita referred to the audit process.
“I wanted to review our election processes and see what, if anything, could be improved. Sadly, it’s now become clear that the audit has been botched,” she said.
“I think they should maybe just call it quits. I don’t think that it’s going to serve any purpose. It’s not going to change the election. The votes have been certified. Biden is the president. It’s not changing. I say move on,” said former Governor Jan Brewer.
Former President Trump also took time to issue a statement Friday, discrediting media reports on the draft audit report. The former president claimed, “the audit has uncovered significant and undeniable evidence of FRAUD!”
It’s no secret that we’ve seen confidence erode in our election system in recent years. It’s not a problem exclusive to Arizona, and it didn’t start in the 2020 election cycle. 1/— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) September 25, 2021
Perhaps it was Governor Doug Ducey who said it best when asked how he would explain the last five months to a classroom of high school history students.
“I would say that democracy can be messy. You fight back and forth. But if you look at where we are today in Arizona I would say that our constitution and our institutions have held.”