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SPOTLIGHT: Your 2021 voter guide to Cincinnati's races for mayor, City Council, school board and more ahead of Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 2. >>

Republican-Led Election Review In Arizona Determines Biden Did Indeed Win

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A widely discredited Republican-led review of the 2020 election in Arizona's biggest county has determined that Joe Biden indeed got more votes there than Donald Trump. The hand recount of the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County was very similar to the official results OK'd by county and state leaders. In fact, Biden gained a few hundred votes. Here's Republican State Senate President Karen Fann as she opened a presentation today to detail the results of the review.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAREN FANN: This has never been about overturning an election. This has never been about decertifying. This has never been about anything other than election integrity.

FADEL: Fann and other backers of the review, including Trump, are clinging to claims of what they say are significant anomalies in the county's 2020 election process. Ben Giles of member station KJZZ joins us now from Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix.

Hi, Ben.

BEN GILES, BYLINE: Hi there.

FADEL: So let's start with this review itself. Why was it so discredited by various officials and election experts?

GILES: Well, it starts with Cyber Ninjas. That's the firm that was chosen by Republican state senators to run the review. They have no previous experience reviewing elections. They're not certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Their CEO has shared conspiracy theories about the election and worked with Trump allies even before he was hired here in Arizona. And now, based on how it's been run, it's been criticized by Maricopa County officials, election experts from across the country and even some members of the - Republican members of the state Senate.

Cyber Ninjas and others working on the review have repeatedly made errant claims throughout the months they've been doing this and even today about things they say are problematic about the election that are quickly debunked. And this has also been bankrolled by election conspiracy theorists. There's plenty to choose from.

FADEL: OK, so given all of that, we shouldn't really put stock into this report's findings regardless of what it's found, right?

GILES: That's right. That's what election experts say - that given the track record here, people are right to be deeply skeptical of the findings. Maricopa County officials said before the presentation began that a draft report was, quote, "littered with errors and faulty conclusions." And Stephen Richer, who's the top Maricopa County election official and a Republican - you know, he doesn't give it credence, either. But he said he does hope the results send a message, at least to some Republicans inclined to believe it.

STEPHEN RICHER: It certainly seems that some people put stock in what the Cyber Ninjas have to say. I am not one of them, but I am hopeful that this will accomplish some of what the Senate purported to want from all this, which was to build voter confidence.

FADEL: So what's been detailed there today?

GILES: Well, a lot of the, quote-unquote, "anomalies" that were mentioned earlier. But the big picture - and this comes straight from Doug Logan, the head of Cyber Ninjas - is that when it comes to a recount of nearly 2.1 million ballots cast here in Maricopa County, he said there were very small discrepancies and that we can say that the ballots that were provided to us to count very accurately reflected the official canvass of the vote in Maricopa County.

He did still raise and is continuing to raise potential concerns. But a lot of what he says - he's actually unable to definitively say things like dead people voted or people voted in multiple counties. It's all speculation, and that's not necessarily a good sign for guys who have been reviewing the election for several months here. At the same time as this presentation, Maricopa County's official Twitter account is following along, debunking things on the fly. So are other election experts here in Arizona.

FADEL: Can you talk a little bit about how this review has played a bigger role in political circles outside of Arizona?

GILES: Well, we know it's captured the hearts and minds of Republicans across the nation. And there are Republican legislatures in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Texas who are starting their own reviews. Folks here who see that, you know, no fraud was found, no massive fraud, hope that will give people pause before they try to replicate this elsewhere.

FADEL: Ben Giles from KJZZ, thanks.

GILES: Thanks, Leila.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.