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Biden's Arizona win certified; Trump backers get review to try to void it

Biden's Arizona win certified; Trump backers get review to try to void it

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Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, left, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey bump elbows as they meet to certify the election results for federal, statewide, and legislative offices and statewide ballot measures at the official canvass at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Phoenix.

PHOENIX — Challengers to Joe Biden's victory in Arizona will get documents in their bid to void the election results.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said Monday he will allow attorneys for state GOP Chair Kelli Ward to compare the signatures on 100 randomly selected envelopes which contained early ballots with the signatures for those same voters already on file.

Warner also ordered production of 100 ballots cast at polling places which were damaged or had other problems with the versions that were reproduced to ensure they could be read by the machines.

That in turn will lead to a hearing on Thursday where attorney Jack Wilenchik said he hopes to prove there were errors and that, extrapolating out the error rate, throws the results into doubt. And that, Wilenchik told Warner, will provide the basis for declaring the results invalid.

What that in turn would do, Wilenchik said, is leave it to the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature to decide who gets Arizona's 11 electoral votes.

Wilenchik also said it doesn't matter if there isn't a ruling before Dec. 14, the day the electors now pledged to Biden based on the formal certification of the vote Monday, are supposed to cast their votes. He said the U.S. Constitution ultimately gives Congress, when it convenes in January, to decide whether to count the votes of the electors chosen through the popular vote or chosen by the legislature.

All that dovetails with a day-long informal hearing being conducted by nine Republican lawmakers who heard testimony from invited witnesses who provided a litany of issues they said show the election results are unreliable at best and fraudulent at worst.

Much of that came from Rudy Giuliani, representing the Trump reelection team, who said there is an inherent insecurity in mail-in voting because signatures are compared — and verified — by election workers without oversight from party observers. He contends there are at least 100,000 ballots that lack  sufficient proof of matched signatures.

"These votes should be declared null and void," Giulinai said.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, had her own complaint about what she said might have been 36,000 ballots cast by people not in this country legally.

But what Townsend did not say is that the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 2013 ruling, said Arizona cannot demand the state law required proof of citizenship from individuals who use a federal voter registration form.

Justice Anonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said the 2004 Arizona statute is superseded by the National Voter Registration Act which does not require such proof. And he said that allows them to have ballots where they can vote on federal elections, including for president and members of Congress, simply by signing an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that they are citizens and eligible.

Giulini and Ret. Col. Phil Wandren, described as a cybersecurity expert, also detailed what they said were inherent insecurities and potential for fraud in voting machines by Dominion Software which is used in Maricopa County.

And a woman identified only as Anna, who said she was a Republican election observer in Pima County, said she saw "concerning" issues as ballots were being counted. Giuliani said that testimony alone about 34,000 unobserved votes "can change the outcome of an election."

The lawsuit and the unofficial hearing both have the same goal: Cast enough doubt on the election returns to give state lawmakers the power to declare the results invalid and declare that Trump gets Arizona's 11 electoral votes.

Less clear is whether and how that could happen.

In the official canvass, state officials from both parties certified that Biden got 10,457 more votes than Trump. Absent a ruling by Warner, that clears the way for the 11 electors pledged to Biden to vote for him on Dec. 14.

Warner's decision to allow a hearing drew opposition from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Roopali Desai, her attorney, said it amounts to an illegal "fishing expedition."

"This sets a very dangerous precedent," she told the judge of having people file suit because they think there was something wrong.

"There is no basis to check if they did a good job," she said.

Warner conceded she may be right.

But Warner said he would rather err on the side of allowing the case to proceed and then having the state Supreme Court tell him he was wrong, than to dismiss it only to be told he has to start over again with time running out.

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