Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Monday criticized the ongoing Republican election audit of the 2020 ballots from Arizona’s largest county as a political stunt, calling it a “farce” and saying it should end.
“A group of Republicans are continuing to try to appease their base who refuse to accept that … Trump lost Arizona and that he’s not the president anymore,” Hobbs told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time.”
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Last week, Maricopa County handed over nearly 2.1 million ballots and nearly 400 tabulation machines to the state Senate after Republican lawmakers subpoenaed the materials and a judge ruled that county officials had to comply. In a last-ditch effort to block the controversial audit, the Arizona Democratic Party and the lone Democrat serving on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which oversees elections, sued to halt the count Thursday evening. A judge agreed to briefly pause the audit after a Friday hearing, but Democrats declined to provide the required $1 million bond, so the audit continued.
After hearing from Arizonans troubled by the endeavor, Hobbs said, her office has been working “with a lawsuit that’s been filed to try to address the security’s concerns at a minimum, but at this point, this seems like such a farce that it would be a good idea to stop it.”
The review, which is being overseen by a company whose chief executive supported former President Donald Trump and shared election conspiracy theories in since-deleted tweets, will be broadcast live by the right-wing One American News Network.
The audit’s GOP organizers have been cagey about who will do the ballot counting and whether the teams will be bipartisan. They have ignored requests from election integrity groups to allow nonpartisan election administration experts to observe the process. And journalists who want to report on the endeavor are allowed to do so only if they agree to participate as election observers, and will be barred from taking notes or video.
“We have so many concerns about this exercise,” Hobbs said Monday. “I kind of don’t want to call it an audit. I think that’s an insult to professional auditors everywhere because they’re making this stuff up as they go along.”
She added, “I think there was a high level of expectation that whoever had their hands on the ballots and the equipment would adhere to some level of security measures and transparency, and that clearly has not happened.”
The partisan audit, which could stretch for roughly two months, comes after county election officials conducted two audits and found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and other issues. Hobbs already certified the election results showing that President Joe Biden narrowly won the state. But the latest review highlights how many Republicans continue to cling to Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020 – falsehoods that continue to roil the GOP.
CNN’s Sara Murray and Stephanie Becker contributed to this report.