A lengthy hand recount of ballots conducted as part of the Arizona GOP-led Senate's review of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots and election equipment affirmed the results certified nearly 10 months ago: President Joe Biden won Arizona.
That outcome appears in a draft copy of the report about the ballot review, which was obtained by CBS News Thursday night via a public records request with the Arizona Secretary of State's office.
According to the draft, Mr. Biden's approximately 45,000-vote victory in the state's most populous county even expanded by a few hundred votes.
The report surfaced less than 24 hours before the Arizona Senate is set to go over the report with the contractors, led by cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas, who were hired to conduct the review.
Republican Arizona Senate President Karen Fann has not responded to a request for comment. An audit spokeswoman noted that more of the report will be released Friday. A separate audit spokesman told KJZZ, which posted similar documents of the draft report, that "it's not the final report, but it's close."
"This means the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters," Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, said in a statement. "That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise."
While the draft report raises concerns issues with the election administration, it asserts that votes were counted accurately.
"What has been found is both encouraging and alarming. On the positive side there were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official canvass results for the County," the draft report says.
Still, the authors criticized the county's recordkeeping, cited issues with some of its election systems and proposed some reforms to the state's election processes. The contractors who wrote the report chided Maricopa County for not fully cooperating with the process and said that this prevented "a complete audit."
"Had Maricopa County chosen to cooperate with the audit, the majority of these obstacles would have easily been overcome," the draft report says.
One of the biggest proponents of the ballot review, GOP state Senator Wendy Rogers tweeted that she had spoken with Doug Logan, Cyber Ninjas CEO, and he noted that the leaked draft is "only a partial report" and said "tomorrow's hearings will render findings of great consequence."
Sellers said in his statement, which was released before the draft report, "How could we cooperate with an inquiry that was led by people who have no idea how to run any election, let alone one in the second largest voting district in the United States?"
"The Board approved the election plan, we hired and supported our election experts, and they produced a well-run and accurate election in accordance with Arizona law," he added.
Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, called the review a waste of resources.
"The Cyber Ninjas embarrassed Arizona for months, violated voters' trust, refused transparency, and stuck AZ taxpayers with a multi-million dollar bill. What'd they find? Biden won," Hobbs tweeted. "The so-called leaders who allowed and encouraged this need to be held accountable in 2022."
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