AP FACT CHECK: Pro-Trump auditors spin election falsehoods

Sep 24, 2021, 7:23 AM | Updated: 10:49 pm
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, speaks during a news conference after the Arizona ...

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, speaks during a news conference after the Arizona Senate Republican hearing on the review of findings in the 2020 election results in Maricopa County at the Arizona Capitol, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Phoenix. The final report of the election review found that President Joe Biden did indeed win the 2020 presidential contest. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A group hired by Trump-friendly Republicans to examine the results of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county spun falsehoods about deleted data, double voting and other malfeasance in a report that ignored basic facts about how elections are run.

The report released Friday by the Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Republican lawmakers in Arizona to look for 2020 election fraud, came up with nothing that throws the election won by President Joe Biden into legitimate question. Instead it tried to paint routine election practices in Maricopa County as errors, irregularities or sinister efforts to deny Donald Trump another term.

Even with its skewed analysis, the report actually came up with more votes for Biden than he was certified to have won in the county last year.

Here’s a look at some of the claims by Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, in a hearing to present its report on Friday:

LOGAN, claiming election results were deleted from Maricopa County’s election management system: “So some individual went into an application, and they chose specifically to run something that would clear all records in the system that was used to generate the official results, the day before an audit started.”

THE FACTS: No, the data never disappeared; it was just moved. Maricopa County officials made copies of the data and archived it before removing it from the election management system.

“We have backups for all Nov. data & those archives were never subpoenaed,” the county said in a statement on Twitter. County officials said data cannot be stored indefinitely on the election management system. “Cyber Ninjas don’t understand the business of elections,” the county said. “We can’t keep everything on the EMS server because it has storage limits.”

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LOGAN: “23,344 people voted when they should no longer have access, or would not normally have access” to voting in Maricopa County because they have moved.

THE FACTS: No, that’s not what happened. Logan reviewed the names of voters against a commercial database of addresses, not a database of voters. He found that 23,344 reported moving before ballots went out in October. While the review suggests something improper, election officials note that voters such as college students, those who own vacation homes and military members, can move to temporary locations while still legally voting at the address where they are registered.

“A competent reviewer of an election would not make a claim like that,” said Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state in Kentucky.

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LOGAN: There were 9,041 mail-in voters who “were mailed one ballot but somehow two ballots were received, which I do not know how you would have one ballot sent and two received.”

THE FACTS: This isn’t unusual, and it’s not a sign of wrongdoing. The file Logan consulted, known as EV33, shows two returned ballot entries whenever a voter’s mail-in ballot has a signature discrepancy that gets fixed.

When a voter mails in a ballot with a blank or mismatched signature, election officials contact the voter. If the discrepancy is resolved, they enter a second record in the EV33 file, election officials said.

“The appropriate conclusion to draw from this finding is that the early voting team was performing their statutory-required responsibility by reviewing signatures on all returned mail-in ballots,” Maricopa County tweeted in response to Logan’s claim.

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Associated Press writers Jude Joffe-Block in Phoenix and Cal Woodward in Washington contributed to this report.

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EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

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AP FACT CHECK: Pro-Trump auditors spin election falsehoods