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Arizona Democrats sound off against election audit reaffirming Biden win
Top Arizona Democrats on Friday railed against the Republican-led election audit in Maricopa County after a draft report of the review's findings reaffirmed President Biden's victory over former President Trump.
"The truth is simple and clear: Arizona's elections are safe and secure," state Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios (D) said at a press conference. "They are now and always have been. Because our elections are run by Republicans and Democrats committed to ensuring a safe process."
Rios criticized the months-long audit as a partisan play by Republicans to validate Trump's baseless claim that widespread voter fraud and systemic irregularities robbed him of victory in 2020. She said the audit report confirmed that the election was free of fraud or cheating.
"Why else would they have this initial report go public on a Friday afternoon?" she said. "And at the end of the day this audit is a partisan game to them designed to prop up former President Donald Trump's conspiracies."
State House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D) lamented that the audit had turned the electoral process into a "circus."
He accused GOP state lawmakers and Trump's allies of creating a "purity test to say that if you don't believe in this audit, if you don't believe that President Trump won, you're not Republican enough."
Their remarks, delivered on the steps of the Maricopa County Supervisor's Office, came hours before the official release of the election audit report detailing the findings of a months-long election review pushed by the Republican-controlled state Senate.
While Trump has seized on the audit as proof of his rigged election claims, a draft report circulated this week shows that the review actually reaffirmed Biden's victory in Maricopa County. In fact, it found him winning 99 more votes than he did in the certified ballot count last year. Trump, meanwhile, came up 261 votes short of where he stood in last year's official results.
The draft report still raises concerns about certain issues - people who voted by mail from addresses they no longer live at, for instance. It also recommends a handful of legislative reforms.
But the draft still falls short of providing evidence of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump alleges cost him his reelection bid last year. That fact alone is likely to empower Democrats, who have railed against the audit effort since its outset earlier this year.
Some of the most biting criticism of the audit came from Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo (D). Speaking alongside Rios and Bolding outside the supervisor's office on Friday, Gallardo blamed "outside forces" for pushing the audit in the first place, saying that they "pushed" Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann (R) "around."
At the end of the day, he said, it was all for the purpose of placating Trump.
"Folks, we're not dealing with rational people here," he said. "They don't care. They don't care about our democracy. They don't care about the credibility of our elections. They are here to try to prove over and over again that their candidate didn't lose Arizona."