Arizona ‘audit’ found more Biden votes. Greitens still wants to overturn the election

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Despite a draft report of a Republican-led election review that found more votes in Arizona for President Joe Biden, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called on the state Friday to decertify its 2020 presidential election results.

The U.S. Senate candidate’s insistence that Arizona cancel the results of its free and fair election continues his promotion of the false notion that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Greitens and other Missouri Republican candidates are courting hard-right primary voters and have all played some role in either perpetuating baseless claims of voter fraud or indulging those who believe Trump won the election. But Greitens has been the most aggressive, traveling to Arizona and securing the endorsement of a far-right Arizona state senator close to the review.

Ahead of the anticipated release of the final review Friday afternoon, Greitens was setting the groundwork among his followers to dismiss reporting and reaction to its conclusions.

“Don’t listen to the mainstream media, liberals, and RINO’s spin of the Arizona Audit,” Greitens said in a statement. “Arizona must decertify!”

The review looked at all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located. A draft report provided to the Associated Press showed a net gain of 360 votes for Biden over the official results.

The draft claims a number of shortcomings in election procedures, suggested the final tally still could not be relied upon and recommended several changes to state law. But the review, handled by a Trump-friendly contractor called Cyber Ninjas, previously made a series of false allegations that have since been retracted about how the election was handled in Maricopa County, which is run by a Republican majority on the county commission.

The outcome of the review never had any official bearing on Arizona’s election results. But Trump diehards, conspiracy theorists and hard-right Republicans gravitated to it as a potential route to raise public doubt about the legitimacy of Biden’s victory. For Greitens, the review offered a way to signal his continuing commitment to Trump and closeness to the Make America Great Again movement.

He went as far as skipping a signature statewide Missouri Republican gathering in June for a trip to the Arizona review, which largely took place inside a cavernous coliseum. He repeatedly emphasized in comments at the time that if “they don’t have the ballots, they don’t have the victory.”

Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid scandals that included allegations of violent sexual abuse and blackmail, is running in the Senate Republican primary against Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Rep. Billy Long and St. Louis businessman Mark McCloskey.

Schmitt was involved in the failed effort to contest the 2020 election in court through an amicus brief in support of a Texas’ lawsuit against swing states that went for Biden. Hartzler and Long both voted against certifying Biden’s electoral college victory following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. McCloskey has falsely called Trump the winner.

As recently as Sept. 15, Greitens posted a slickly-produced video featuring him and Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, a Republican who has intensely promoted the review and has endorsed Greitens.

“The question I get from conservatives and from patriots is: Does my vote matter?” Greitens says a featured clip.

On Friday, as Greitens doubled-down on baseless notions of voter fraud, his ex-wife, former Missouri first lady Sheena Greitens, offered a different take.

“This is really important,” the University of Texas at Austin professor wrote on Twitter after noting the review had found more votes for Biden. “We need to have confidence in our electoral system & its results. It’s a win for American democracy.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting