By ALI SWENSON and ANGELO FICHERA, Related Press
Presenting its findings in a six-month-long evaluation of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona’s largest county on Friday, a Republican-backed cybersecurity agency resulted in a lot the identical place the place it started: with none proof to contradict licensed election outcomes displaying Joe Biden received.
Nonetheless, the Cyber Ninjas agency, which had by no means audited an election earlier than, unfold quite a few falsehoods that ignored the fundamental information of how elections work in Maricopa County, together with unfounded claims about duplicate ballots, lacking recordsdata and illegitimate votes.
Over the weekend, bits of the agency’s findings — together with from varied drafts of its report — proliferated on social media, driving a surge in false posts suggesting the election outcomes had been flawed. Biden received Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes, key to his 10,500-vote win of Arizona.
Right here’s a more in-depth have a look at among the claims.
CLAIM: Greater than 57,000 ballots forged in Maricopa County had critical points and will have been disqualified.
THE FACTS: That is not true. The quantity is calculated from a laundry checklist of deceptive and debunked claims in a draft model of the report.
Claims that there have been 57,734 ballots with “critical points,” that had been “unlawful” or that “ought to’ve been disqualified” are citing the sum of what a draft of the report referred to as “Ballots Impacted.” The draft itself famous, “In lots of circumstances there may very well be reputable and authorized votes throughout the Ballots Influence quantity.”
Actually, the three largest elements of the entire — all the purported poll points billed as being both “essential” or “excessive” severity — are flawed.
One of many “essential” figures included within the complete is 23,344 mail-in ballots forged by individuals who allegedly moved earlier than ballots had been despatched out. However that quantity is predicated on a business database unrelated to elections, and it doesn’t imply one thing improper occurred. Election officers defined many citizens transfer to non permanent places whereas nonetheless legally voting at their registered deal with.
One other declare rolled into the entire is that 9,041 voters had been recorded as receiving one mail-in poll, however returning two. Nevertheless, Maricopa County mentioned on Twitter that this happens when a voter returns a poll with a signature discrepancy — akin to a clean or mismatched signature — and election officers contact the voter to resolve the difficulty. A second document is then created within the system. In these circumstances, in fact, just one poll is counted per voter.
The draft report additionally included the flawed declare that there have been 10,342 voters who voted in a number of counties.
CLAIM: Voters who voted in a number of counties totaled 10,342.
THE FACTS: This declare from a draft model of Cyber Ninjas’ report is fake. The quantity is a tally of votes from individuals who share the identical full names and start years. Specialists say such overlap is widespread in a county the place greater than two million individuals forged ballots.
County officers provided an instance on Twitter: “In case you seek for Maria Garcia born in 1980, you’ll get 7 lively voters in Maricopa County and 12 statewide. And that’s only one identify.”
Election officers usually depend on further info to keep up voter lists, akin to the whole start date and final 4 digits of a voter’s Social Safety quantity.
Cyber Ninjas softened its language within the closing report, saying it was believable that the repeated names and start years may come from “reputable, separate particular person voters.”
CLAIM: Greater than 17,000 duplicate ballots had been counted within the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County.
THE FACTS: No, they weren’t. Shiva Ayyadurai, the COVID-19 vaccine skeptic and failed U.S. Senate candidate who made this declare, primarily based his evaluation on pictures of poll envelopes, not ballots. Opposite to Ayyadurai’s evaluation, pictures of the identical poll envelope usually exist however the poll inside is counted solely as soon as.
County election officers say they re-scan pictures of poll envelopes anytime a voter submits an envelope with a clean or mismatched signature and it will get resolved. When the county contacts the voter and she or he indicators the envelope, a brand new picture of the envelope is captured.
Because the Senate’s subpoena requested all of the poll envelope pictures, the county included each authentic and duplicate envelope pictures, despite the fact that every poll was solely counted as soon as.
Ayyadurai additionally identified that many duplicate poll envelope pictures got here in after Election Day. There’s a easy clarification for that: Below Arizona regulation, there’s a interval of 5 enterprise days after an election throughout which voters can deal with sure irregularities with their ballots. Maricopa County employed further employees to contact voters and resolve discrepancies within the closing days of voting and within the days after the election.
Social media customers seized on a second in Ayyadurai’s presentation when he mentioned that Maricopa County had didn’t checklist the duplicate ballots in its canvass report. However that report lists what number of ballots had been forged, counted and rejected, and doesn’t deal with scanned pictures of poll envelopes.
CLAIM: Maricopa County purged the machine data from the 2020 election the day earlier than an out of doors evaluation of the vote began.
THE FACTS: The info by no means disappeared. Whereas officers moved election knowledge off a server and onto backup drives to organize for a county-commissioned audit in February, they archived and retained all of it, the county confirmed.
Maricopa County denied claims that it had been “CAUGHT” deliberately deleting knowledge in some sort of sinister plot, explaining there may be not sufficient area for the information to stay on the server indefinitely.
“Now we have backups for all Nov. knowledge & these archives had been by no means subpoenaed,” Maricopa County tweeted on Friday.
Related Press author Jude Joffe-Block contributed to this report from Phoenix.
That is a part of AP’s effort to deal with broadly shared misinformation, together with work with exterior firms and organizations so as to add factual context to deceptive content material that’s circulating on-line. Study extra about fact-checking at AP.
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