Arizona AG letter offers no evidence of 2020 election fraud

Arizona’s Republican Attorney General on Wednesday released an interim report on its review of the 2020 Maricopa County election, detailing concerns about some electoral processes but providing no evidence of major issues despite a six-month investigation.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is in a difficult GOP primary for the US Senate, broadly echoed concerns raised by a sweeping election scrutiny conducted last year by supporters of former President Donald Trump on behalf of Senate Republicans became.

Brnovich is courting Trump’s support for his Senate nomination, which would give him a significant boost in a field without a clear Republican frontrunner to rival Democratic Senator Mark Kelly.

Arizona was ground to zero by efforts by Trump and his allies to find evidence to support their claim that Trump’s narrow loss here was marred by fraud. The former president has repeatedly vented about the pace of Brnovich’s review of the 2020 election, saying people are wondering if the attorney general is “able to do the right thing.”

In Wednesday’s 12-page letter to Republican Senate Speaker Karen Fann, Brnovich said some of the forms documenting the transportation of ballots were missing signatures or other information. The issue has been widely debated among Trump supporters, who falsely claim the election was stolen from him, but no evidence of tampering has been presented and Brnovich offered none.

Brnovich also claimed that election officials were working too quickly in verifying voters’ signatures on mail-in ballots. He proposed several changes, including requiring voters to provide additional information such as a driver’s license number, introducing uniform nationwide standards for accepting or rejecting signatures, and allowing partisan observers to observe and challenge the signature verification process.

He also claims that the number of ballots with rejected signatures declined between 2016 and 2018, requiring another review in 2020. It is rightly pointed out that the law was changed for 2020 to give voters five days after the election to fix any problems.

Brnovich also complained that district officials were slow to respond to his requests for information. District officials have previously said they must cooperate but also focus on conducting local elections while collecting the extensive set of documents Brnovich has requested.

He asked the legislature to grant him subpoena power to compel county officials to immediately give him any documents he requests and included a list of recommendations to tighten election procedures.

“The Attorney General’s interim report on the 2020 Maricopa County election contains no new evidence, nothing that would have changed the results, and nothing to cause people to question the overall health of our voting system,” said Stephen Richer and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates, both Republicans, said in a statement. The clerk and board of directors jointly oversee county elections.

They noted that Brnovich did not address several disproven claims made by Trump allies, including that the voting computers were connected to the internet and data was illegally wiped.

Fann called the report “a historic day for voter integrity in Arizona.”

“We wanted an entity with law enforcement powers to validate the missteps that our audit uncovered, and this interim report does just that,” she said. “The AG’s findings of omissions, fraud and potential wrongdoing during the 2020 Maricopa County election are not surprising given the lack of compliance and cooperation that Maricopa County election officials have shown from the beginning.”

Brnovich’s letter to Fann said his election integrity unit “uncovered cases of voter fraud by individuals who were or are being prosecuted for various election crimes.” But none of the Arizona charges have anything to do with how the election was conducted, and none reveal any instance of wrongdoing by officials or poll workers.

The Attorney General has admitted to filing criminal charges against nine people statewide for electoral crimes related to the 2020 general election, which saw more than 3.4 million ballots cast. Of those cases, only two occurred in Maricopa County, and both involve people who illegally filled in the ballots of their parents who died shortly before the election.

One woman is awaiting conviction on a reduced felony charge and the other has already completed the probation she received after pleading guilty in December. Brnovich’s office revealed this case on Wednesday but did not say how the crime was discovered. The first case came to light after a citizens’ group searched lists of recently deceased people who may have voted and turned them over to the attorney general.

Also on Wednesday, the Attorney General announced that a woman in Cochise County, in southern Arizona, had pleaded guilty to voting in her dead mother’s vote. Under a plea agreement, the woman will be sentenced to probation and could face up to 60 days in jail for a minor offense that could be reduced to a misdemeanor.

In January, following an extensive internal review of his election, the Maricopa County Elections Department turned over to Brnovich 38 counts of potential voter fraud it uncovered when reviewing its 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 general election. Among them were five people who may have voted in more than one county and six who may have voted twice in Maricopa County. The county has also located 27 voters who may have died before their ballots were returned in the mail.

Death certificates are automatically sent to state and county election officials to have their voter registration canceled. However, if this happens within two months of an election, it is possible for a relative to send back their mail-in ballot envelope. That has happened in most of the cases The Associated Press has followed since the 2020 election. The other charges come from criminals who are said to have voted.

The AP spent months tracking potential voter fraud cases in Arizona and other battleground states last year and found few cases, despite Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud. In Arizona, the AP’s initial count was fewer than 200 as of July. That number declined after Pima County completed its review of 151 potential voter fraud counts and found no criminal charges were warranted.

Since then, only a handful of new criminal cases have been filed.

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