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Maricopa County official estimates errors could have cost Trump 103 votes

Supporters of Donald Trump gather on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 in Phoenix, outside where the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors are meeting about certifying election votes. The elected leaders of Arizona's most populous county were expected to certify election results Friday that showed Democrat Joe Biden won the most votes. (AP Photo/Terry Tang)

PHOENIX (AP) — Errors in processing certain ballots could have caused President Donald Trump to lose 103 votes in metro Phoenix, an elections official estimated in court Thursday in a GOP lawsuit that seeks to undo Democrat President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward is challenging ballots in Maricopa County that were duplicated because voters’ earlier ballots were damaged or could not be run through tabulators.

A court-ordered sampling of 1,626 duplicated ballots found that Trump lost seven votes due to errors in ballot processing in Maricopa County. Scott Jarrett, Maricopa County’s director of Election Day and emergency voting, said Trump could have lost 103 votes if the error rate were extrapolated across all 27,800 duplicated ballots in the county.

Poll observers called to testify by Ward’s attorney said they saw errors made in the duplication of ballots and said that the software used in processing such electronic ballots was inaccurate and would “prefill” Biden’s name on ballots.

Attorneys who sought the dismissal of the lawsuit have questioned whether the error rate for duplicated ballots would be so high that it could plausibly change how the state voted in the presidential race.

The hearing is scheduled to resume Friday.

The state’s election results were certified on Monday, showing Biden won Arizona. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14.

No evidence of voter fraud or election fraud has emerged during this election season in Arizona. U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has said the Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election.

Even though Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said earlier this week that Arizona’s election was well-run as he certified the Nov. 3 results, many GOP politicians in the state have mostly been silent or slow to express confidence in the election results that gave Biden a victory in Arizona.

Ward’s lawsuit claims some suburbs on the southeastern edge of Maricopa County had an unusually high number of duplicated ballots — and that the election results in that area were “strongly inconsistent” with voter registration and historical voting data. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office has said there were 104 duplicated ballots cast in the area in question.

Judge Randall Warner said he was going to dismiss Ward’s claims that Republican poll observers weren’t given adequate access to the signature-verification of mail-in ballots and duplicated ballots, saying the issues complained about by Ward should have been brought sooner.

Four earlier election challenges in Maricopa County were dismissed, including one filed by the Arizona Republican Party that sought to determine whether voting machines were hacked.

Another lawsuit filed earlier this week by firebrand conservative attorney Sidney Powell, who was removed from Trump’s legal team, asked a judge to decertify the state’s votes, alleging that there were more than 400,000 illegal ballots counted in the state and criticized the voting equipment used in metro Phoenix.

A hearing in the case is expected early next week.

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