Maricopa County delivers a K.O. punch to Senate audit. Trump believers don't feel a thing

Maricopa County ballots from the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors hired by the Arizona senate, May 5, 2021, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona.
Maricopa County ballots from the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors hired by the Arizona senate, May 5, 2021, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona.
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Within moments of Maricopa County releasing its 93-page, point-by-point debunking of the Senate’s audit of the 2020 election, state Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward was already dismissing the findings.

“(Elections Director) Scott Jarrett says 2020 Maricopa was a ‘reliable, secure, transparent, and accurate election,’ ” she tweeted, adding four emojis so overcome with laughter that the little guys were crying.

Gee, what a shock.

The head of the Arizona Republican Party, a politically ambitious politician who has built herself a national following by outright lying about the election, refuses even to consider the county’s response to the Cyber Ninja audit.

At a time when many Republican leaders can’t even bring themselves to see the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol as a problem, really is it any surprise that they can’t bring themselves to admit that maybe, just maybe, nothing nefarious happened on Nov. 3, 2020?

That their guy just plain lost?

53,000 ballots cast, 83 possible errors found

For those who are interested in facts, the county spent three months reviewing the claims made by the Senate’s auditors …

… That more than 53,000 ballots were potentially suspicious. That tabulation machines were connected to the internet. That election files were intentionally deleted. That early ballots were accepted with suspicious or even no voter signatures.

The Republican-controlled county’s conclusion: “We determined that nearly every finding included faulty analysis, inaccurate claims, misleading conclusions and a lack of understanding of federal and state election laws.”

More: It wasn't easy to balk Arizona's election audit madness. These 6 did

The county did find a few questionable ballots out of the 2.1 million cast.

That included 37 cases of potential voter fraud and 50 instances in which a ballot may have been counted twice.

That’s a phenomenally low error rate, one the county says affected the outcome of precisely zero races. Even so, county elections officials should redouble their efforts to catch these sorts of problems in future elections.

If Brnovich could find a crime, he would

As for the 37 cases of potential fraud, the county has asked Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate.

Already, Brnovich, who is running for the Senate in a crowded GOP primary, has been investigating for the last three months. This, at the request of Senate President Karen Fann, who requested a review upon release of the audit in September.

Given the pressure Brnovich is under to put elections officials in jail, you’d think he would have indicted somebody by now.

If he could find evidence of a crime, that is.

One would hope now that the county’s report – delivered 424 days after the election – would put an end to the hysteria over Donald Trump’s loss. That Arizona’s leaders could move on real issues, such as the need to better educate our children in the wake of a pandemic that sent academic achievement plummeting.

The county supervisors’ new chairman certainly thinks it should.

“It’s my hope that this will be the last word on the November 2020 election,” Chairman Bill Gates, a Republican, said at the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing on the county’s findings.

'The last word' on the election? If only

Don’t bet on it, sir.

The Arizona Legislature convenes on Monday with plans for all manner of election “reforms” to a system that … worked.

And lest you think your fellow Republicans may tread lightly given their slim control of the Legislature and an election that’s coming like a freight train?

The new gerrymandered districts approved a few weeks ago by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission likely assure Republican control of the Legislature for the foreseeable future.

So, to recap. Republicans got their “full forensic audit” that alleged no voter fraud, only “anomalies” that auditors said called into question the legitimacy of more than 53,000 votes. Now they have the county’s explanation of those anomalies and its conclusion, that 87 of the county's 2.1 million votes are questionable.

This, in a county that Trump lost by more than 45,000 votes.

Cost thus far to taxpayers: $4 million. And counting.

There's money to raise, outrage to stoke

Still to come, yet another investigation (the third? the fourth?) into whether the county’s tabulation equipment was connected to the internet.

In a deal the county cut with Senate President Karen Fann, former Rep. John Shadegg is overseeing that investigation for the low, low price to taxpayers of $500 an hour.

Meanwhile, there is money to be raised and outrage to stoked and political careers to build.

“Bill Gates says he hopes that Maricopa County’s ‘report’ will be the last word on #AmericasAudit,” Ward tweeted. “Don’t count on it.”

And on and on it goes.

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Maricopa County K.O.'s the Senate audit. Trump supporters feel nothing