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Arizona Republicans have begun a recount of some 2020 election results. Here’s why

Arizona state Republicans are recounting votes in Maricopa County to look for unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud

SHARE Arizona Republicans have begun a recount of some 2020 election results. Here’s why

Photo Illustration by Alex Cochran

Republican state lawmakers have begun recounting ballots in Arizona’s Maricopa County from the 2020 presidential election, nearly six months after former president Donald Trump lost the typically red state — and reelection.

The almost 2.1 million ballot audit is the result of a subpoena by Republican state senators who’ve sought the recount “to examine unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted President Biden’s win,” according to The Washington Post. The senators hired a private technology company — Florida-based Cyber Ninjas — to conduct the audit, reported the Arizona Republic.

  • Doug Logan, the head of Cyber Ninjas, said on Twitter he believes there was election fraud and “people better get wise fast,” National Public Radio reported.
  • Logan has also authored a document called “Election Fraud Facts & Details,” which cites debunked conspiracies and unproven allegations as proof of election fraud, the Arizona Mirror reported.
  • “Some of it is based on my own research, but quite a bit is information I got from other people but personally vetted,” Logan said of how we came about the material for the document, according to the Arizona Mirror.

Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security “declared the 2020 election the most secure in history,” according to Vox.

  • “Three previous reviews showed no sign of significant fraud or any reason to doubt President Biden’s victory, The New York Times reported.
  • Arizona’s state senators do no have the power to change election results, The Associated Press reported.

Legal snags and security concerns

The Republican-sponsored recount began late last week and immediately met legal challenges and criticism.

On Friday, a judge asked Cyber Ninjas to “turn over its plans and procedures amid concerns about the security of the county’s ballots and voter privacy,” while lawyers for the out-of-state tech company argued that those plans include trade secrets and are protected by “legislative privilege, as it is working on behalf of the state Senate,” reported the Arizona Republic.

  • “After a brief pause on Friday ordered by a state court judge, the audit continues without clarity on who will do the counting, what it will cost and who will pay for the process,” The New York Times reported.
  • “The prospect that a court might block voters from seeing how their ballots will be handled during the unprecedented undertaking adds to mounting concerns about its transparency, given that its funders remain a mystery and news briefings were immediately placed on an indefinite hiatus,” according to the Arizona Republic.
  • Cyber Ninja’s lease on a stadium being used as the recount location expires on May 14, reported NPR.

A website — AZAudit.org — is hosting nine live-streaming videos of the recount, but the cameras are not zoomed in and there is no sound. The camera views look similar to that of a security camera’s perspective.


On election night, a viral video from Arizona inaccurately claimed that ballots filled out with sharpies weren’t counted, leading protesters to flock to the polling station. The hashtag #sharpiegate went viral in the wake of the misinformation.

  • Maricopa County officials and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security each released statements that using a sharpie wouldn’t void a ballot and that felt-tip pens are recommended because they “provide the fastest-drying ink.”
  • Still, the viral video led to a lawsuit from a Maricopa county voter — supported by a conservative out-of-state legal group — who alleged that her ballot and others had not been counted correctly, according to The Times. The attorneys filing the case later submitted a dismissal.

The numbers

President Joe Biden beat former President Trump in the popular and Electoral College vote, securing his victory by a wide margin of 306 to 232 votes in the November election.

In Arizona, then-candidate Joe Biden narrowly won Maricopa County, receiving 49.4% of the the county’s vote to the incumbent president’s 49.1%, Politico reported. Maricopa, which is the seat of Phoenix, is Arizona’s largest county.

  • Arizona was one of the five Republican strongholds that Biden turned blue in November, according to Politico.
  • Biden’s Arizona victory — with 11 Electoral College votes — did not secure the president’s 2020 win. But Biden also flipped Pennsylvania (20 votes), Georgia (16 votes), Michigan (16 votes) and Wisconsin (10 votes) for a total red-to-blue turn of 73 Electoral College votes, reported Politico.