PHOENIX (AP) — County election officials agreed Wednesday to expand their inspection of certain ballots in metro Phoenix that are being challenged in a Republican lawsuit that seeks to reverse Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who filed a lawsuit contesting the election results, is looking for irregularities among the nearly 28,000 ballots in Maricopa County that were duplicated by elections officials because voters’ earlier ballots were damaged or couldn’t be tabulated. She requested a broader examination of the ballots after a court-ordered inspection of 100 duplicated ballots on Tuesday found two instances in which votes cast for Trump were cancelled in the duplication process.
Before the judge could rule on Ward’s request at a court hearing, the county offered to review 2,500 additional duplicated ballots.
“We put on a great election on Nov. 3, and we are happy to have people look more closely at it,” said Tom Liddy, a lawyer representing county officials. “We have nothing to hide.”
Ward’s lawyers say the inspection of 100 ballots found that one person’s vote for Trump was ultimately recorded as a Biden vote and that another person’s vote for Trump was cancelled when the reproduced ballot contained votes for both the Republican incumbent and a write-in candidate.
Bruce Spiva, a lawyer for the 11 Biden electors in Arizona who were sued by Ward, questioned whether the error rate for duplicated ballots would be so high that it could plausibly change how the state voted in the presidential race.
Roopali Desai, an attorney representing Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said Ward’s lawsuit is a “fishing expedition” that doesn’t make any claims of pervasive fraud or intentional misconduct.
A trial has been scheduled for Thursday in Ward’s lawsuit.
The state’s election results were certified on Monday, showing Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14.
No evidence of voter fraud or election fraud has emerged during this election season in Arizona. U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has said the Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
Even though Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said earlier this week that Arizona’s election was well-run as he certified the Nov. 3 results, many GOP politicians in the state have mostly been silent or slow to express confidence in the election results that gave Biden a victory in Arizona.
Ward’s lawsuit claims some suburbs on the southeastern edge of Maricopa County had an unusually high number of duplicated ballots -- and that the election results in that area were “strongly inconsistent” with voter registration and historical voting data. Hobbs’ office has said there were 104 duplicated ballots cast in the area in question.
Four earlier election challenges in Maricopa County were dismissed, including one filed by the Arizona Republican Party that sought to determine whether voting machines were hacked.
A new election challenge filed Wednesday by Trump’s electors in Arizona alleges that there were more than 400,000 illegal ballots counted in the state and criticizes the voting equipment used in metro Phoenix. The lawsuit was filed by firebrand conservative attorney Sidney Powell, who was removed from Trump’s legal team.