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Judge: No fraud, misconduct, illegal votes in Maricopa County’s 2020 election

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge denied Friday a Republican-backed request to nullify Arizona's election results and grant President Donald Trump, who lost in the official vote count, the state's 11 electoral college votes.

President-elect Joe Biden won the election in Arizona by about 10,500 votes.

Judge Randall Warner said there is neither evidence of fraud, misconduct, an erroneous vote count nor illegal votes in the 2020 election results in Maricopa County.

"The Plaintiff in an election contest has a high burden of proof and the actions of election officials are presumed to be free from fraud and misconduct," Warner wrote. "The Court finds no misconduct, no fraud, and no effect on the outcome of the election."

The lawsuit was filed Monday by state GOP chair Kelli Ward against the state's Biden electors. She alleged that Maricopa County election workers may have improperly verified signatures used to to confirm the identities of people who vote by early ballot and that they switched Trump votes to Biden votes on duplicates of ballots that were unreadable by the county's tabulation machines. Ward also claimed official observers couldn't get close enough to oversee the work of county staff during the signature verification process, but that claim was dismissed Thursday.

In Friday's findings, Warner explained that Ward had to prove any "misconduct rose to the level of fraud, or that the result would have been different had proper procedures been used."

Earlier in the week, the judge allowed for 100 ballots to be reviewed by lawyers and forensic document examiners, and Maricopa County voluntarily provided another 1,526 ballots for review. Only nine had an error, Warner wrote.

"The duplication process for the presidential election was 99.45% accurate," he said. "And there is no evidence that the inaccuracies were intentional or part of a fraudulent scheme. They were mistakes. And given both the small number of duplicate ballots and the low error rate, the evidence does not show any impact on the outcome."

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Warner issued his findings after two days of evidentiary hearings.

On Twitter, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who is not named in the lawsuit but intervened in the case, said it is "time to stop" allegations that the 2020 election was inaccurate and fraudulent.

"Facts matter in a court of law, & the facts remain that this historic election had tremendous turnout and was both secure and accurate," she said. .

The Arizona Republican Party replied to Hobbs' tweet, "See you at the Supreme Court." Hobbs promptly answered, "Can't wait." .

Warner, the judge, said in his findings that an "immediate appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court" is permitted.

Jack Wilenchik, Ward's attorney, said the errors found in the processing of ballots are "serious" and need further investigation. His team has filed a notice of appeal, he said.

Jeremy Duda contributed to this report.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror

Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward shown in a file photo.