In a bid to bolster former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Trump’s Republican allies are now seeking Arizona-style audits in other swing states – including Georgia, where the former President’s false claims have set off an intraparty war.
A day after Trump said in a statement that Georgia should follow Arizona’s lead, former Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Trump supporter who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in next year’s GOP primary, proposed an audit Wednesday.
“Georgians still have questions about irregularities found in the 2020 election and they deserve answers,” he said in a statement. “We must get to the bottom of all of this and other irregularities to restore trust in our election process. If Mr. Kemp refuses to demand an audit, then I will when I am elected to replace him.”
Jones’ characterization of the election was false: Georgia has already tallied the results to confirm Biden’s victory there three times and conducted an audit of absentee ballot signatures. The state found no evidence of fraud, and Kemp and other Republican state officials have backed the findings.
Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger have been under fire for months from Trump and his supporters for refusing to lend credence to the former President’s lies about widespread fraud in the election. Jones’ push for an audit didn’t make waves in Georgia on Wednesday but did draw attention from pro-Trump conservative media outlets.
Still, despite the failure to find any evidence of fraud, Trump’s supporters there and in Arizona have continued to assert that more reviews of the 2020 election results are needed.
The Arizona audit – commissioned by the Republican-led state Senate and overseen by a Florida-based company called Cyber Ninjas – is behind schedule. It is also not following what elections experts say are standard auditing procedures. And it has been hampered by technical difficulties.
Jennifer Morrell, an elections auditing expert appointed by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs as an observer of the Arizona audit, detailed a number of bizarre procedures – some of which she said could introduce errors – in a Washington Post opinion piece Wednesday.
“In more than a decade working on elections, audits and recounts across the country, I’ve never seen one this mismanaged,” Morrell wrote.
On Tuesday, the auditors had backtracked from their previous claims that a key database on Maricopa County’s elections server had been deleted, admitting in a hearing held by the state Senate Republicans overseeing the audit that the data is intact and they’d been looking the wrong way.
Those previous false claims, which were made on the auditors’ Twitter account and in a letter Senate President Karen Fann sent to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, had been amplified by Trump over the weekend. The former President said in a statement: “The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!”
Despite the problems plaguing the audit, Trump and his Republican supporters have been eager to portray it as a success – and to urge other states to follow suit.
In a statement Tuesday, Trump said Georgia should be the next state legislature to launch its own audit, following Arizona’s lead.
“Now maybe the Georgia State Senate and House will build up the courage to expose the large-scale Presidential Election Fraud, which took place in their otherwise wonderful State. Let them just look at the State Senate in Arizona to find out what Leadership and Patriotism is all about!” Trump said.
In Arizona, like Georgia, some Republican officials have also said Trump is wrong. The Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County – the home of Phoenix and the largest county in the state – consists of four Republicans and one Democrat. It has unanimously opposed the state Senate’s audit of the 2.1 million votes cast in the county. So has County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who was elected last year. Trump has also railed against Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey for failing to support his claims of fraud.
The state Senate, however, has indulged Trump’s lies.
Fann, the Senate president, said Tuesday that Republican lawmakers in other states have contacted her about potentially pursuing audits in their states, as well.
“I’ve had other senators and Senate presidents and speakers from other states that have contacted me that said this is an issue that they are struggling with as well, to make sure – and they have said this is what’s going to lay the groundwork as to, you know, what is the future of, how do we audit our elections if need be,” she said.
Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state, who has defended Arizona’s election procedures, pointed to Fann’s remarks in a call with reporters Wednesday as she lambasted the audit there as “a fundraising stunt.”
“Just yesterday, Senate President Karen Fann said during the hearing that she’s getting calls from legislators and other states wanting to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it,” Hobbs said. “And we know that there are efforts to bring the circus to other counties across the country.”
CNN’s Stephanie Becker contributed to this report.