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Arizona draft audit report shows Biden lead widened by 360 votes

A Republican-led audit of the 2020 election in Arizona's largest county found that President Biden actually won by a larger margin than the county's official results show. 

The review revealed that Biden won 1,040,873 votes in Maricopa County in November, according to a draft audit report, 99 more votes than the certified ballot count last year showed. Former President Trump's vote total, meanwhile, dropped from 995,665 to 995,404 after the audit - a difference of 261 votes.

In total, the audit found that Biden beat Trump by 360 more votes than previously recorded, according to the draft report. The official audit report is slated for release on Friday afternoon. A copy of the draft report was posted online by the political news outlet Arizona Agenda.

The months-long audit was conducted at the behest of the Republican-led Arizona state Senate, which hired a Florida-based firm called Cyber Ninjas to lead the effort. Nonprofit groups set up by defenders of Trump's false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen helped fund the effort, pumping millions of dollars into the forensic review of the vote in Maricopa County. 

The draft report's conclusion that Biden's lead in the county was actually wider than previously thought is likely to be a disappointment to Trump's allies, who have raised allegations of widespread fraud and systemic irregularities in the elections in Arizona and other key states.

Nearly a year after his loss to Biden, Trump has continued to claim without evidence that the 2020 election was rigged and that he is the rightful winner of the contest. He's urged Republican officials in other states, like Wisconsin and Georgia, to conduct similar audits. 

On Thursday, the Texas secretary of state's office announced a "comprehensive forensic audit" of the election from four of the state's largest counties. 

That announcement came hours after Trump publicly demanded that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott back legislation that would initiate an election audit. Current results show that Trump carried Texas by more than 630,000 votes.

Despite finding Biden's vote lead growing, the draft report out of Arizona recommends a series of legislative reforms "to provide additional certainty to elections going forward."

One such recommendation suggests that lawmakers consider a measure that "links voter roll registration to changes in driver's licenses or other state identification, as well as requiring the current voter rolls be validated against the United States Postal Service (USPS) National Change of Address (NCOA) at a predefined period prior to every election."

The draft report also recommends that some issues - such as the presence of duplicate voter IDs - be investigated by the Arizona state attorney general. 

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