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Trump focuses unfounded 'rigged and stolen' election claims on Pima County

'The former president’s delusions & accusations remain alive & well' — Az Democrats

Donald Trump continued his election grievance campaign Friday with a new claim that the 2020 election in Pima County was "rigged and stolen" from him, emailing supporters about supposed "staggering anomalies and fictitious votes."

Trump's claims are "bat-shit crazy," said Supervisor Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

A longtime local GOP activist called the accusations "total BS."

Trump lost his presidential re-election bid in Pima County by nearly 20 points, with 304,981 voters for President Joe Biden and 207,758 for the Republican incumbent. That's a 58.6-39.9% edge for the Democratic winner.

While a shambolic "audit" of votes in Maricopa County didn't succeed in showing Trump actually won there, despite the claims of his most fervent supporters — the review by a motley group with only a cursory understanding of election processes despite months of effort ended up with a report that found Biden had a larger margin of victory there than the official tally — Trump and his backers have turned their sights on elections elsewhere. That now includes Pima County.

What the Devil: Trump lies about Tucson votes, because of course he does

Trump said a "new analysis of mail-in ballots... derived from publicly available election data, shows staggering anomalies and fictitious votes in Pima County’s mail-in returns, making it clear they stuffed the ballot box (in some precincts with more ballots than were ever sent!)."

"The Pima County GOP should start a canvass of Republican voters, in order to identify and remove the obvious fictitious voters from the system," Trump said in a email blast, claiming that the vote here was "Rigged and Stolen from the Republican Party in 2020, and in particular, its Presidential Candidate."

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"The former president’s delusions and accusations remain alive and well," the Arizona Democratic Party said.

"Former President Trump's comments are without basis or foundation," Bronson, an elected Democrat, told TucsonSentinel.com.

"Pima County conducted a free, fair, secure, and accurate election. The results were publicly audited via hand count by the County's Republican and Democratic parties, and the results were certified by the Pima County Board of Supervisors and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey," said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

Benny White, a conservative area Republican who's served years on the Pima County Election Integrity Commission and last year ran for county recorder — the office that oversees voter registration and handles early balloting — said the claims of any wrongdoing here are "total BS."

"These people simply don't know how to read voter registration data, election canvass records or voter history records," said White, who refuted any claims that there were any precincts that had more ballots returned than voters to fill them out.

Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, who ran against White and was voted into office in 2020, said that the election results were checked and rechecked.

"We have certified our election results, we had them approved by the Board of Supervisors, and no allegations of fraud have been brought forward," Cázares-Kelly said.

In fact, contrary to Trump's claims that ballots were "stuffed" at the last minute to thwart his victory, turnout was up substantially in Pima County in 2020, and Democrats have a significant voter registration edge here — there are now 71,000 more Democrats than Republicans in the county. Early voting — both by mail and ballots cast in-person before Election Day — jumped, both due to the pandemic and in a continuation of a long-term increase in people turning in their ballots early.

In 2020, there were 430,224 early ballots returned in Pima County, along with 29,656 "satellite voters" who cast their ballots before Election Day. That was up from 2016's 311,592 and 12,441 voters before the date of the general election.

"I’ve never seen early ballot numbers like this," F. Ann Rodriguez, the long-time Pima County recorder who retired after last year's election, said last October, weeks before the Nov. 3 election. In just the first two weeks of early voting, about 40 percent of the requested early ballots had already been returned.

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Friday, Rodriguez said that the complaints about the county's election came from people who "have never worked on an election, and who don't understand the process and simply don't know what it looks like."

"They're saying a lot of stuff, but they're not saying specifically, which precinct. We can go back and look at the canvass and confirm the data," she said,  noting that in 2020 the county had far more people voting by mail because of the pandemic, and there was huge turn-out, including people showing up at early-voting sites, or satellite locations.

"As far as what specific precincts, I don't know," she said. "And, I suspect they don't know that either. The simple fact is that he lost the election."

"I've run over 200 elections, and 7 presidential elections," Rodriguez said. "Voting by mail has been growing in this state since 1992 — people want to vote by mail because it gives them an opportunity to review the ballot and make decisions."

"This is not new," she said. "It may be new to the Trump group, but across the country the objective was to get citizens voting."

Bronson said Friday that Rodriguez, a Democrat, "is one of the most honest and conscientious county recorders I've ever met."

"Donald Trump may have been to Pima County, but he has no idea even where it is," said the county board chair.

Trump has latched on to claims by Shiva Ayyadurai, one of the main faces of the bumbling Maricopa "audit" along with Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, who repeatedly made unfounded assertions about "fraud" in Arizona's elections. Most of his patently false findings can be attributed to Ayyadurai — a 57-year-old who claims to have "invented email" despite the first email being sent in 1971 — simply not understanding how elections are conducted.

"Every part of the process from picking up the ballots from the post office to opening the ballot, there are checks and balances there," said Cázares-Kelly. "And, there are two members of the opposing party double-checking each other's work. Every single affidavit is done with both parties present throughout the process, from signature verification to prepping for turn-over to the Elections Department. And, the Elections Department conducts a number of audits they're required to perform with the secretary of state, and even there we have a separate process."

White, the GOP election activist, has a chart (see sidebar) of early ballot returns by party and date, which he told the Sentinel "completely discredits the claims made by Shiva (Ayyadurai) and echoed by Trump."

"These people just make stuff up and expect the public to believe their nonsense. Some of us actually know how to read the records," White said.

Some of the organizers of the Arizona "audit" have acknowledged in public hearings that they have found no evidence of any fraud in the election here. Others have refused to testify, instead continuing to make appearances in right-wing media rather than make statements under oath.

"One thing it's really important to know that whether these allegations are true or not, it plants the seed of distrust in the public for how the elections get done," Cázares-Kelly, an elected Democrat, told the Sentinel. "This is how people get disenfranchised — they're disillusioned by the process, so they feel that their vote doesn't count. This is a really dangerous line of thinking."

Rodriguez questioned how well Ken Bennett, the spokesman for the GOP-pushed "audit," understands the election process. "No secretary of state, including the previous one, and the current one, has the hands-on experience that we (county recorders) have," she said.

"It's unfortunate," she told TucsonSentinel.com. "I listened to that whole report, and they don't understand the process, and they don't understand the election law, it was rhetoric."

"This is how our democracy works, and they're spending all their energy on putting a negative spin on democracy because their candidate lost. Candidates lose all the time," Rodriguez said.

"Arizonans are sick and tired of former President Trump's conspiracies and lies around the 2020 election, which threaten Arizona's democracy," said Sarah Guggenheimer, a spokesperson for the state's Democrats.

Huckelberry said that "the administration of the election was observed by the Pima County Elections Integrity Commission. Pima County may be the only county in Arizona with such a multi-partisan commission whose sole role is to advise the County Board of Supervisors and the Elections Department on the conduct and security of county-administered elections."

"The Pima County Elections website has a wealth of information about the 2020 election, including the downloadable results of all past elections dating to the 1990s," the county administrator said in an email. "It also includes the county's Elections Security Plan, which safeguards our county elections and includes numerous layered protections that ensure no one could do any of that which is being asserted by a former elected official and his supporters. If there is anyone who believes they have evidence of wrongdoing, they should provide such evidence to proper investigative authorities, or file an action in the Pima County Superior Court or the U.S. District Court."

“The Pima County canvass reflected an accurate report of the 2020 election results and was duly certified by the Board of Supervisors in November 2020," the County Recorder's Office said late Friday afternoon. "We found no instances of deviations of elections protocols and no concerns of fraud have been brought to our attention. In addition, Pima County has an Independent Elections Integrity Commission that is comprised of members of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green parties and as a whole has found no reason to question the results of the 2020 Pima County clection."

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2 comments on this story

Oct 17, 2021, 7:56 am
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And when they find out nothing happened in Pima, there are still 13 more counties to go! I’ve seen Snipe hunts that were more successful that trying to find 11,000 more votes for this psycho.

Oct 15, 2021, 3:16 pm
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Pima County better NOT waste any tax payer money or resources conducting an unecessary audit! These false claims have wasted enough time, money, and resources. Enough already!!!

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Trump during a re-election campaign rally in Tucson, October 2020.


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