September 29, 2021

A GOP-led review of 2 million ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona, confirmed on Sept. 24 what official election results showed months ago: Joe Biden won the county in the 2020 election.

But speaking the next night to a crowd of fans in Georgia, Trump insisted that Biden lost.

“We won on the Arizona forensic audit yesterday at a level that you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said during a Sept. 25 “Save America” rally in Perry, Georgia, referring to the ballot review ordered by Republicans in the Arizona state Senate.

“They had headlines that Biden wins in Arizona when they know it’s not true,” Trump added. “He didn’t win in Arizona. He lost in Arizona based on the forensic audit.”

In fact, the review found the exact opposite — that Biden had 45,469 more votes than Trump in Maricopa, roughly in line with the official results certified in November 2020. According to the report issued by Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to conduct the review, Biden’s margin of victory was 360 votes larger than the county’s official canvass showed.

“There were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official election canvass results for Maricopa County,” the firm’s report said.

Trump’s statement is “complete nonsense,” said Benny White, a Republican and longtime volunteer data analyst for the state Republican Party. (White had offered to help check the report’s findings but was turned down.)

“The official results are correct,” White said. As for Trump, “he lost.”

Biden beat Trump in Arizona by about 10,500 votes, the first time a Democratic presidential nominee had won there since 1996.

Trump spokespersons didn’t respond to our email asking for his evidence.

While the Republicans have referred to the ballot review as an “audit,” election experts say that it did not follow typical post-election auditing procedures and lacked credibility.

Meanwhile, during the rally, Trump made other claims about the review. We have fact-checked two of them:

Trump said “there were 17,322 duplicate ballots” which a computer scientist identified as having “surged right after the election was over.”

This is misleading. A scientist who has spread conspiracy theories in the past claimed that he had identified over 17,000 duplicate ballot envelope images. Duplicate ballot images aren’t the same thing as duplicate votes, and there is no evidence that illegitimate votes were duplicated as part of a voter fraud scheme. (There has been scant evidence of any voter fraud in Arizona.)

Duplicate ballot envelopes are created when election officials contact voters with inconsistent or blank signatures to cure their signatures. Each set of “duplicate” images is counted only once. Arizona state law gives Maricopa County staff five business days after an election to contact voters with inconsistent signatures. As a result, there was a spike in duplicate envelopes after the election as workers contacted people who had cast their ballots on or shortly before Election Day, said Megan Gilbertson, a spokesperson for Maricopa Elections Department.

Trump said that “millions of election-related files were deleted,” including “a purge of the ‘election management system’ … the day before the audit began.”

The Maricopa County Elections Department has denied this, saying its 2020 election data was not deleted and instead was archived and backed up elsewhere, as is standard procedure before a forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment, such as the one the county commissioned in February.

Our ruling

Trump said Biden “didn’t win in Arizona. He lost in Arizona based on the forensic audit.”

That’s not true.

The review found that Biden won Maricopa by 45,469 votes — a slightly larger margin than the county’s official canvass.

And Biden won Arizona. Nothing in the report written by the Cyber Ninjas contractors stated otherwise.

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Amy Sherman is a staff writer with PolitiFact based in South Florida. She was part of the team that launched PolitiFact Florida in 2010 and…
Amy Sherman

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