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Election certification can progress after judge tosses Arizona GOP lawsuit

PHOENIX – A certification of election results in metro Phoenix can proceed after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge rejected a Republican lawsuit on Thursday attempting to halt that process.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is set to canvass the election at 3:30 p.m. Friday, certifying the accuracy of the results in Arizona’s largest county. Eleven of Arizona’s 15 counties have already certified election results.

The Arizona Republican Party’s lawsuit sought to postpone the certification until Maricopa County conducted a new hand count of a sampling of ballots, despite an initial audit finding no discrepancies.

Judge John Hannah did not provide an explanation for the ruling but did say the GOP’s request to amend the lawsuit was futile and prohibited the party from refiling the suit. He did say he would provide an explanation in the future. He also ruled that the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office could file to have the state GOP cover court costs.

Generally, Arizona voters are assigned a polling place in their precinct where they can vote in-person; however, in the 2020 general election, Arizona voters could choose any voting center. The Arizona GOP attempted to argue that conduct the sampling by precinct instead of voting center would provide a more accurate count.

The county completed a hand-count of some ballots on Nov. 9 that showed its machine counts were 100% accurate.

The same was found Wednesday during routine post-election accuracy tests on the counting machines. Still, the GOP suit sought a new limited electronic audit of ballots that would be measured on a precinct level, rather than the audit that was conducted of the county’s vote centers.

“Arizona voters deserve to have complete trust in their election procedures,” Arizona Republican Chairwoman Kelli Ward said in a statement. “They should also have supreme confidence that only legal ballots were counted in the 2020 election.”

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes, and Maricopa County put him over the top. The Biden for Arizona campaign called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said that it was “rightly dismissed.”

“Arizona’s election was well-run and transparent, and far-right fringes of the Arizona Republican Party should stop trying to undermine Arizonans’ faith in free and fair elections,” Arizona Communications Director Geoff Burgan said in a statement. “This ruling is a win for Arizonans who turned out in record numbers this fall.”

On Tuesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to voters in the county assuring that the proper steps have been taken to ensure a safe and secure election.

More than 2 million ballots were cast in Maricopa County, and the board affirmed there was no evidence of voter fraud or misconduct.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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