The controversial review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County affirmed the accuracy of the official tally. But the report still raises alleged concerns about the election system.



Republicans in several states are still litigating the results of the 2020 election. A draft report on the findings of the ballot recount in Maricopa County in Arizona has been released. The report reaffirms what we already knew, that Joe Biden won the county by more than 45,000 ballots. The vote was certified by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general. So what's the significance of this audit?

Joining us now, Ben Giles from member station KJZZ - Ben, thanks for being here.

BEN GILES, BYLINE: Thanks, Rachel.

MARTIN: First off, who carried out this audit?

GILES: So it was ordered by Republicans in the state Senate who said they were just trying to answer voters' concerns. But it was conducted by and paid for primarily by people who have been part of efforts in Trump's orbit to overturn or delegitimize the election. That includes the primary contractor, Cyber Ninjas, this Florida-based company with no prior election experience. And it's run by a man, Doug Logan, who actually spread conspiracies of election fraud and worked with Trump allies before he was hired in Arizona.

MARTIN: So what are we learning about what's been released so far in this draft report?

GILES: Well, the key element is from the most visible aspect of the election review. That was a hand recount of the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, the largest in Arizona. And the results of that hand recount didn't differ much from the official tally. Biden actually picked up a few more votes by their count. And Trump lost some votes. And that amounts to something of a massive concession that there wasn't massive fraud that some claimed would be revealed. It hewed closely to the official canvass of the vote.

MARTIN: You mentioned, though, that this - the firm who's done this itself might be somewhat dubious. Are the results considered credible?

GILES: No. And that's according to election officials here in Arizona and across the nation. They've spent the past several months reminding voters that the contractors on the ground here in Arizona are inexperienced. They say they're unprofessional and that the findings shouldn't be trusted. But maybe they'll be trusted by folks who doubt the results.

MARTIN: But still, the findings that this firm discovered align with the truth of what actually happened in 2020, right?

GILES: True - but there is also other aspects of the report that we'll hear more about tomorrow. There's a - today - excuse me - there's a presentation that's going to happen this afternoon in the Arizona state Senate. For example, Randy Pullen - he's a spokesman for the election review - he said there are other anomalies that they're going to bring up, other issues with record-keeping and voting systems. There's other reports, part of this that weren't leaked to the media. Those will be used to likely cast doubt on the results. They'll also be used, importantly, for recommendations for new voting laws in Arizona.

MARTIN: So as we've noted - I mean, Arizona's one of several states where the GOP's auditing the election results, even though there's zero evidence of widespread irregularities. Do these reviews even matter?

GILES: Well, they do to at least Republicans in the states where these are happening. And I think they matter to everyone if there are, in Arizona, new voting laws that are proposed based on the findings of these reviews, of these so-called audits. Those are laws that will affect how people vote in the future.

MARTIN: Ben Giles, from member station KJZZ in Arizona, thank you.

GILES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.