The Daily Beast is reporting that for Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters, the Republican-led Arizona Senate’s “forensic audit” of more than 2 million ballots last November provided an opportunity to prove election fraud or even overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
Right-wing media were enthralled by the ballot counters’ frequently bizarre practices, such as searches for ballots made of bamboo fibers and suspicious ballot folds that allegedly indicated Democratic election fraud.
However, more than four months have passed since the initial date for the report on the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County was promised, and supporters of the audit are growing impatient.
The ballot count concluded this summer, and the ballot-counters even gathered on Wednesday night for a two-month reunion. A COVID-19 outbreak infected the head of audit operator “Cyber Ninjas” and two of his employees, causing the report to be delayed.
State Senator Wendy Rogers (R), whose support for the audit has made her a rising star on the national Republican fringe, acknowledged this week critics who have called the audit “fake” and “not real.” The final report, according to Rogers, will be delivered to the Arizona state Senate next week.
“YOU WILL LOVE THE ARIZONA SENATE SOON EVEN THOUGH SOME ARE MAD AT US NOW,” Rogers wrote on Telegram, a social media app favored by Trump supporters.
However, while supporters of the audit await the long-awaited report, they have begun to dabble in other half-baked investigations. They’ve now seized on another conservative report that makes the audit’s search for bamboo fibers appear scientific.
Liz Harris, an Arizona activist, released a “grassroots canvass report” last week that claimed to show massive election fraud in November. According to Harris, more than 173,000 ballots were not counted in Maricopa County, while 96,389 “ghost votes” were cast with no identifiable voter behind them.
Harris claimed to have discovered specific bogus addresses hidden behind mail-in ballots, photographing vacant lots she claimed housed phantom voters. Experts and Maricopa County officials, however, say the report is riddled with errors and so flawed that she had to change the photo on the report’s cover page.
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According to Harris, volunteers investigating voter registration information fanned out across Maricopa County using voter rolls. The report was quickly embraced by right-wing media outlets and Trump supporters, with the far-right blog The Gateway Pundit hailing its “explosive findings.”
In an appearance on One America News, State Rep. Mark Finchem (R), a promoter of QAnon conspiracy theories whose bid to become Arizona Secretary of State was endorsed Monday by Trump, cited Harris’ report.
“It’s pointed to more than election-systems fraud,” Finchem said. “It’s pointed to voter roll fraud.”
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who interviewed Harris for his podcast, pointed to the report’s cover, which Harris claimed showed a vacant plot of land that couldn’t legally have registered voters.
“It’s an empty lot where two votes came from!” Bannon said. “Such a heckle.”
Despite Trumpworld’s embrace of Harris’ document, she has largely kept her methodology hidden. When Harris has revealed the data behind her claims, it has been easily debunked.
Harris did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request to see the data supporting her claims, and she reportedly refused to share her data with the Arizona Republic. The county’s Recorder’s Office and Assessor’s Office said in a joint statement that Harris had “refused” to provide them with information they could use to investigate her allegations of voter fraud.
A brief explainer on ballot styles and why they make injecting manufactured (aka bamboo) ballots into the system next to impossible.
A thread using maps of @maricopacounty
*all numbers are estimates using GIS union algorithm. pic.twitter.com/l5ZxjvsNjO
— The AZ – abc15 – Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) September 7, 2021
Garrett Archer, a data analyst at Phoenix TV station ABC15 who has attempted to decipher the methodology of the report, said Harris also refused to share her evidence with him.
“I could write a book about many problems there are here,” Archer, who previously worked as an elections analyst for Arizona’s Secretary of State.
It's funny. I spent 10 years as a political operative. The most important lesson is that politics is perception.
That and if you are explaining you are losing.
That's all you need to know about what happened tonight.
— The AZ – abc15 – Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) September 18, 2021
Even the cover image of empty lots, which Bannon praised, has been panned. The first version of Harris’s report featured a location she claimed was an empty lot. Maricopa County officials, however, disputed that description in their statement, claiming that the land in fact contains a house with four legally registered voters.
Harris quickly changed the cover image of the report to a new empty lot. County officials, however, refuted that claim as well, claiming that the land had previously housed a mobile home. According to officials, the voter registered at the mobile home voted from a temporary address, implying that Harris’ photo of an empty field did not prove any election irregularities.
“They made a mistake on their cover sheet, so there’s a chance that there’s mistakes in the actual data,” Archer said.
While Harris’ methodology is still unknown, it is clear that her volunteers did not interview every voter in the county. Instead, they appear to have taken a small subsection and multiplied any voter roll discrepancies they discovered to arrive at their tally of hundreds of thousands of missing or illegitimate ballots.
It appears everyone is still off of everyone's Christmas card list. pic.twitter.com/K9GbwYFswV
— The AZ – abc15 – Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) September 18, 2021
“They just make these broad-brush assumptions without contacting the county and going through their data to see what could have happened,” Archer said.
Trump supporters who are eagerly awaiting the audit report’s findings will have to wait at least another week. Last month, in defending the audit, Rogers went on the offensive, saying critics should focus their efforts on organizing similar efforts outside of Arizona.
“For those saying the Arizona Audit Results are taking too long, I can tell you they are coming faster than 49 other states,” Rogers wrote on Telegram.
According to the Arizona Capitol Times, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate reached an agreement late Friday that will allow Republicans limited access to routers and other information related to the 2020 presidential election – but will keep the physical equipment out of the hands of the Cyber Ninjas who are searching for evidence of election fraud at the request of Donald Trump.
Under the agreement, “… the county and the senate selected a special master to handle the process of answering the Senate’s questions about the routers and splunk logs. That’s in lieu of turning the materials over to the Senate and its contractor, Cyber Ninjas.”