Pro-Trump Republicans are flocking to site of partisan Arizona ballot audit

“Thank you AZ Senator Wendy Rogers for the warm welcome,” she tweeted Wednesday, along with the hashtag “#auditeverystate.”

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate authorized the review of ballots and hired a private company called Cyber Ninjas to conduct it after President Joe Biden flipped the state blue for the first time in decades.

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman visited the coliseum this week. Georgia state Sens. Burt Jones and Brandon Beach made the trip Tuesday seeking “a blueprint for a statewide forensic audit” in Georgia, a conservative radio host said.

Vernon Jones, a Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, visited Wednesday, criticizing Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, for failing to do the same.

A spokesman for the review, Randy Pullen, former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, told NPR that Nevada GOP officials visited the count Monday and that lawmakers from Wisconsin may visit this week. Audit officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Contractors with Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix examine and recount ballots cast in the 2020 general election in Maricopa County on May 6.Matt York / AP file

A trio of Pennsylvania state senators — Doug Mastriano, Cris Dush and Rob Kauffman — made the trip last week and called for a similar review in Pennsylvania. Trump called on the Pennsylvania Senate on Friday to “conduct a full forensic audit” of the 2020 vote or “there is no way” GOP state Senate leaders “will ever get re-elected!”

A key Pennsylvania House Republican said the House wouldn’t initiate a new audit, saying Republicans there, as in legislatures across the country, are focused on altering election laws, instead.

“The PA House of Representatives will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election,” tweeted Rep. Seth Grove, who chairs the State Government Committee. “We are focused on fixing our broken election law to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

Mastriano, Eastman, Vernon Jones, Hanks and Chase all participated in pro-Trump events in Washington, D.C., before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Efforts to review last fall’s election persist in multiple swing states, with the review of more than 2 million Maricopa County ballots at its center even though previous audits found no evidence of fraud.

Pro-Trump supporters rally to defy the election results hours after Joe Biden was named president-elect outside the Maricopa County elections building in Phoenix on Nov. 7.Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

“I think that people in other parts of the country should be looking at what’s going on in Arizona as an example of what not to do,” Bill Gates, a Maricopa County supervisor who helps oversee elections, said in a recent interview. Gates, a lifelong Republican, is among the most outspoken Republican critics of the review.

Voter fraud in U.S. elections is exceedingly rare. Trump’s top cybersecurity official said the election last year was “the most secure in American history,” while then-Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread malfeasance.

In Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and other presidential battleground states, post-election audits or recounts — in some cases, multiple such reviews — have affirmed Biden’s win. But those who still question the vote say the recounts didn’t go far enough.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said the partisan ballot review in Maricopa County effectively creates a road map for Republicans elsewhere to undermine election results they don’t like.

“They are definitely writing the playbook here in Arizona to bring this type of, I don’t want to call it an audit, but to other states,” Hobbs said in a recent interview. “And it’s dangerous. It’s continuing to undermine the integrity of our elections. We are now more than six months past the 2020 election. We know that it was secure and that the results reflected the will of voters accurately.”

Allan Smith is a political reporter for NBC News.

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