Arizona County election officials have identified less than 200 cases of potential voter fraud out of more than 3 million ballots cast in last year’s presidential election, further discrediting the former president. Donald Trump Claims of a stolen election come as his allies continue a disputed ballot review in the state’s most populous county.
An Associated Press investigation found 182 cases where the problems were so obvious that officials referred them to investigators for further review. So far, charges have cropped up in only four cases, including those identified in a separate state investigation. No one has been convicted. No person’s vote was counted twice.
While it is possible that more cases could emerge, the numbers reflect the impossibility of Trump’s claims that fraud and irregularities in Arizona cost him the votes of state voters. In the final, certified and audited results, Biden won 10,400 more votes than Trump out of a cast of 3.4 million.
The AP’s findings align with previous studies showing that voter fraud is rare. There are several security measures built into the system not only to prevent fraud from happening but also to detect it when it does happen.
“The fact of the matter is that election officials across the state are highly invested in helping to ensure the integrity of our elections and the public trust in them,” said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat. . “And part of that is taking potential voter fraud seriously.”
Arizona’s possible cases also reflect another reality: voter fraud is often bipartisan. Of the four Arizona cases that have been criminally charged, two involve Democratic voters and two involve Republicans.
The AP review supports statements made by several state and local election officials — and even some Republican county officials and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey — that Arizona’s presidential election was secure and that its results were valid.
And yet, the GOP-led state of Arizona managing committee has been doing for months what he describes as a “forensic audit” of the results marvel s Maricopa County The effort has been discredited by election experts and faced bipartisan criticism, but some Republicans, including Trump, have suggested it would uncover evidence of widespread fraud.
“It’s not a big issue,” said Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw the Maricopa County election office during the 2020 election and lost his re-election bid. “It is a lie that has evolved over time. It has been fed by conspiracy theorists.”
The AP tallied potential cases after all Arizona counties submitted public records requests. Most counties – 11 out of 15 – reported that they had not referred any potential cases to local prosecutors. Most of the cases identified so far involve people who voted for a relative who died or people who attempted to cast two ballots.
In addition to AP’s review of county election offices, an election integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office that was created in 2019 to detect fraud is reviewing potential fraud cases.
A spokesman for Attorney General Mark Branovich told the AP in April that there were 21 active investigations into the unit, though he did not specify whether all were from last fall.
A month later, the office charged a woman with voting on behalf of her deceased mother in November. A spokesperson declined to provide updates this week.
Maricopa County, which is subject to a disputed ballot review ordered by state Senate Republicans, has identified only one case of potential fraud out of 2.1 million ballots. He was a voter who may have voted in another state. The case was referred to the county attorney’s office, who forwarded it to the state attorney general.
Almost all cases identified by county election officials are Pima County Tucson home, and it involved voters attempting to cast two ballots.
The Pima County Recorder’s Office has a practice of sending all cases with indications of possible fraud to prosecutors for review, which the state’s 14 other county recorders do not. Pima County officials sent 151 cases to prosecutors. An election official said he did not refer to another 25 of the voters over the age of 70 because those errors were more likely – typically attempting to vote twice – were the result of memory lapses or confusion, criminal Not of intent, said an election official.
None of the 176 duplicate ballots were counted twice. Joe Watson, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Attorney’s Office, said the 151 cases it received are still being reviewed and no charges have been filed.
The number of Pima County referrals to prosecutors following last year’s election was consistent in 2016 and 2018. Prosecutors filed no voter fraud charges after the 2016 election and right after the 2018 election, and that case was subsequently dismissed, Watson said Friday.
But there were some new patterns this year, said deputy recorder Pamela Franklin. It appears that an unusually large number of people deliberately voted twice, often by early voting in person and then by mail. In Arizona, where about 80% of voters cast ballots by mail, it is not uncommon for someone to forget that they returned their mail-in ballot and then later asked for a replacement or attempted to vote in person. said. But this pattern was new.
Franklin mentioned several factors at play, including concerns about delays in the US Postal Service. In addition, Trump at one point encouraged voters who cast their ballots early by mail to show them at their polling places on Election Day and to vote again if polling workers could not confirm that they had received their mail ballots. .
The results in Arizona are similar to early findings from other battlefields. Local election officials in Wisconsin identified just 27 potential cases of voter fraud out of 3.3 million ballots cast last November, according to records obtained by the AP under the state’s open records law. Cases of potential voter fraud in other states where Trump and his allies have faced challenges have so far accounted for a small fraction of the margin Trump lost in those states.
The Associated Press review comes months after Trump and his allies claimed without evidence that he had won the 2020 election. His claims of widespread fraud were dismissed at the time by election officials, judges, a group of election security officials, and even Trump’s own attorney general. Still, supporters continue to repeat them and they have been cited by state lawmakers as justification for tighter voting rules across the country.
In Arizona, Republican state lawmakers have used unfounded claims to justify an unprecedented external Senate review of the election in Maricopa County and to pass legislation that could make it harder for fewer voters to automatically receive mail ballots. is.
In a statement, Trump called the AP’s tally an attempt to “discredit the large number of voter irregularities and fraud” in key battlefield states and said “real numbers” will be released “soon.” He did not provide any evidence to support his claim.
Senate President Karen Fan has said repeatedly that she does not aim to reverse the election results. Instead, she has said she wants to find out if there was a problem and show voters who believe Trump’s claims whether they should trust the results.
“Everyone keeps saying, ‘Oh, there’s no proof’ and it’s like, ‘Yeah well, let’s do the audit.’ And if there’s nothing there, we say, ‘Look, there was nothing,'” Fan told the AP in early May. “If we find something, and it’s huge, but if we find something, we can say, ‘Okay, we have evidence and now how can we fix it? Fan did not return calls this week. AP findings.
Aside from double voting, cases flagged by officials mostly involve a ballot after someone dies, with three Yavapai County voters committing felonies for casting a ballot for a spouse who died before the election. encounter.
In Yuma County, a case involving a voter attempting to cast two ballots was referred to the county attorney for review. Chief Civil Deputy William Kerkes told the AP there was no intention of voter fraud and that the case was closed without charges.
Cochis County Recorder David Stevens found that the mail-in ballots were received from two voters who died in early October before the mail ballots were sent. Sheriff’s representatives investigating the cases found their homes were empty and closed the cases. The votes were not counted.
Cassidy reported from Atlanta.