Accusations that hundreds of ballots were cast in Arizona in 2020 on behalf of deceased voters are unfounded, the state’s Republican attorney general said in a letter to the president of the Arizona Senate on Monday. , which advanced false allegations of electoral fraud.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote in his letter to Senator Karen Fann that his office’s Election Integrity Unit had spent “hundreds of hours” investigating 282 allegations submitted by Ms. Fann, as well as over 6,000 allegations from four other reports. Some of them “were so absurd,” he wrote, that “names and birth dates didn’t even match the deceased, and others included post-election death dates.”
The allegations in Ms Fann’s complaint stemmed from a heavily criticized audit of the 2020 election that the company Cyber Ninjas conducted last year in Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa. This audit found no evidence of former President Donald J. Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him; in fact, it counted slightly fewer votes for Mr. Trump and more for Joseph R. Biden Jr. than in the official tally. A later report by election experts accused Cyber Ninjas of making up his numbers.
Nonetheless, Ms Fann sent the accusations of deceased voters to Mr Brnovich’s office in a September 2021 complaint.
“Our agents have investigated all individuals the Cyber Ninjas have reported as dead, and many were very surprised to learn that they were allegedly deceased,” Mr. Brnovich wrote in his letter. His office concluded, he wrote, that “only one of the 282 people on the list had died at the time of the election.”
Mr. Biden won Arizona by just over 10,000 votes.
In a statement late Monday, Ms Fann thanked Mr Brnovich for his ‘tireless work’ in ‘answering some tough questions from voters and lawmakers who had serious concerns about how the 2020 general election went. in Arizona”.
“They’ve asked us to do the hard work of finding the facts, and we’re providing the facts,” she said, calling the investigation “critical to restoring the diminished trust that our constituents have expressed in the wake of the last election” and praising “the increased voter integrity measures”. put in place after the audit found weaknesses in our election processes,” although the audit did not find any weaknesses in Arizona’s election processes.
Spencer Scharff, an Arizona election attorney and former director of voter protection for the Arizona Democratic Party, said while there was value in a public statement from a Republican official that the allegations were unfounded, it would not repair the damage caused by the original. lies, and by the willingness of so many elected Republicans to entertain and promote them.
“The thing I find most regrettable is that this comes long after these allegations were made, and they weren’t clearly refuted by people who had the ability to refute them immediately,” he said. said Scharff, noting that by contrast, Maricopa County officials debunked many of the Cyber Ninjas’ claims months ago.
Mr Brnovich sent the letter a day before Arizonans head to the polls for another election – one in which he is running himself. He is a candidate for the Republican Senate primary, the winner of which will challenge Senator Mark Kelly, a Democrat, in November. The frontrunner in public polls is Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who has Mr. Trump’s endorsement and promoted the former president’s bogus election fraud allegations.
Mr. Brnovich has sought to respect Mr. Trump’s lies – refusing to call for nullification of the 2020 election results, but rarely explicitly rejecting the claims. He publicly defended Arizona’s vote tally shortly after the election, and Mr. Trump lambasted him in June and instead endorsed Mr. Masters. But he also suggested that 2020 exposed “serious vulnerabilities” in the electoral system, and said cryptically on former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon’s podcast in April: “I think we all know what that happened in 2020”.