Arizona Republican senators who commissioned an audit of the 2020 presidential election will announce their findings on Friday, concluding an effort spurred by Donald Trump's claims of widespread electoral fraud.
The results of the "forensic audit" of the former president's performance at the polls in Maricopa, Arizona's most populous county, will be revealed in the state Senate at 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET), five months after the Republican-led Senate launched it.
A wide array of election experts, Democrats, and some Republican officials have rejected the audit as a highly partisan boondoggle run by contractors without relevant expertise who are out to prove that Trump won last November.
Even so, the report has been eagerly anticipated by Trump's allies in his Republican Party, some of whom have been keen to use it to justify similar investigations in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and other battleground states where the vote count went against Trump.
Trump has predicted the report would provide the evidence to support his fraud claims.
President Joe Biden beat Trump in Arizona's official tally by a margin of just over 10,000 votes, a narrow victory confirmed by a hand recount and multiple post-election tests for accuracy.
Election officials in Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, also conducted a separate audit that found the vote was accurate and secure.
To lead the latest review of 2.1 million votes in Maricopa County, the Republican-led Arizona Senate chose Cyber Ninjas, a little-known firm with no prior experience auditing elections whose owner, Doug Logan, has promoted ideas backing Trump's assertions.
The audit has been marked by practices that critics described as ranging from inappropriate to bizarre, including counters marking ballots with blue ink, which can alter how they are read by machines, and workers checking for traces of bamboo fibers based on a theory that forged ballots may have been shipped in from Asia.
Launched in late April with the goal of wrapping up in May, the operation has progressed more slowly than planned, most recently being delayed because Logan and others on his team became infected with the coronavirus.
The make-up of the audit's financial backers has also raised alarms. In June, Logan disclosed that outside groups tied to key boosters of Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results had raised more than $5.7 million for the audit, far surpassing the $150,000 contributed by the Arizona Senate.
The review has split leading Republicans in the state, with Trump loyalists pitted against Maricopa County officials who have repeatedly defended the election results as accurate.
Prior to the report's release, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer issued a 38-page statement criticizing the audit as "slipshod" and detailing why he believes the 2020 result was valid.
"Nobody stole Maricopa County's election. Elections in Maricopa County aren’t rigged," wrote Richer, a Republican who says he campaigned and voted for Trump.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, also released a preemptive rebuttal, a 122-page statement in which she blasted the audit for delays and alleged lapses in security, transparency, and organization.
According to an advisory for the event, the audit team will present the report to Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen, both Republicans who have spearheaded the election review. Media will not be allowed to ask questions at the hearing, which will be livestreamed, it said.
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