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Arizona Bill Peddles Debunked Election Fraud Claims
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Arizona Bill Peddles Debunked Election Fraud Claims

A Republican representative is attempting to decertify 2020 election results.

Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem introduced a bill earlier this week to attempt, once again, to decertify the results of the Arizona 2020 presidential election. The last failed attempt to prove election fraud in Arizona began on April 23, 2021, with a partisan election “audit” initiated by Arizona Republicans ​​of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots. 

As we reported, the faux “audit” was conducted by cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas, which does not specialize in election security. The Cyber Ninja report was riddled with errors, failed to provide any evidence of a stolen election, and actually found 360 more votes for President Joe Biden. 

In January, Maricopa County officials issued a 93-page rebuttal to the partisan Cyber Ninja report, noting that 76 of the report’s 77 claims were false or misleading. “On November 23, 2020, Maricopa County delivered the November General Election certified canvass results to the Arizona Secretary of State,” county officials said in the report. “The Elections Department stands by these certified results. Many allegations about the November 2020 General Election made their way to court and Maricopa County clearly presented the facts to judges at both the state and federal level. Fourteen different times complaints alleged election fraud, manipulation, or tampering in Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election. No claim succeeded.”

Finchem, a Republican, does not mention this rebuttal in his proposal. Instead he called the 2020 election “irredeemably compromised” and said “it is impossible to name a clear winner of the contest.”

His statement continued: “In the case of Maricopa, Pima and Yuma Counties, the fact that there is evidence showing illegal acts occurred, whether by intent or omission does not matter, the margin of error exceeds the margin of victory. If we are a nation governed by the ‘rule of law,’ as we so often espouse, then violations of the law must have consequences.”

Finchem’s bill runs through a list of previously debunked claims of voter fraud, many of which we addressed in our reporting on the Cyber Ninja Report.

The bill provides no evidence of fraud. It recycles the claim that, “23,344 voters voted via mail-in ballot even though they show in the Melissa Commercial Database as having moved and no one with the same last name living at the address of record for the voter.” The Cyber Ninja report made the same false allegation months ago. 

The official Maricopa County Twitter account debunked the claim in September, giving several explanations: “Military and overseas voters can cast a ‘federal only ballot’ despite living outside the U.S. The address tied to their ballot would be their prior address in AZ.” Maricopa officials added: “People are allowed to move from one house to another (or even one state to another) in October and November of an election year (yes, shocking!). If the driver’s license address matches the voter registration address, they are still allowed to vote.” Lastly, “For the November General Election Maricopa County had 20,933 one-time temporary address requests. In addition, snowbirds and college students tend to have forwarding addresses when they are out of the county.”

Finchem also repeats the claim that “election observers witnessed the following: computers and 19 laptops with internet connection capability in the tabulation centers.” The Cyber Ninja report made the claim as well.

 Maricopa County’s lengthy Cyber Ninja rebuttal addresses the issue of internet connectivity specifically, noting: “The Election Management System’s (EMS) network is 100% air gapped without external connection to the County network or the internet.” An “air gapped” network has neither a wired nor a wireless connection to another network. So, in order to move a file on an air-gapped network, you’d need to copy it on a removable device, such as a USB drive.  “This has been verified multiple times by qualified independent third-party vendors,” Maricopa officials said. They further noted that “the EMS server is only connected to the County’s air gapped EMS network.”

Finchem also claims evidence of duplicate ballot images: “Pattern analysis of early voting ballot return envelopes revealed that of 34,448 such ballot return envelope images there were 2-copy, 3-copy and 4-copy duplicates originating from 17,126 unique voters.” We’ve fact checked this claim before too. In October, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, a known conspiracy theorist and promoter of baseless voter fraud claims, promoted it in October. He also appeared as an expert panelist at Mike Lindell’s failed cyber forensic symposium. 

Maricopa County officials explained why the claim is false: “Maricopa County only counts one ballot per eligible voter. The canvass is designed to report ballots, not envelopes.” Officials also explained in their report that “Maricopa County may scan an envelope multiple times as a voter ‘cures’ a signature issue or signs a blank envelope. Early ballot envelopes are NOT opened until a signature is verified.”

Maricopa County also addressed the false claim on Twitter: “Every time a voter has a questioned signature or a blank envelope, we work with that voter to cure the signature. That’s our staff doing their job to contact voters with questioned signatures or blank ballots. Only one ballot is counted.”

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Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.