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Arizona officials say county held 'fair' election

by EUGENE SCOTT THE WASHINGTON POST | October 8, 2021 at 3:50 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Arizona Republican officials told Congress Thursday that Maricopa County conducted a "free, fair and accurate election" last November, President Joe Biden won the state and a Republican-commissioned review of nearly 2.1 million ballots in the county failed to find the widespread fraud claimed by former President Donald Trump.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee summoned Jack Sellers, chairman of the board of supervisors in the county; Bill Gates, vice chairman of the board, and Ken Bennett, the former secretary of state, to testify after the state Senate hired Cyber Ninjas to conduct a review.

The six-month, GOP-driven review confirmed the accuracy of the results, according to a report released last month. The review also has triggered similar actions in other states, including ones that Trump won.

The officials testified Thursday to the legitimacy of the results, with Biden defeating Trump by 45,000 votes in the county and winning the state and its 11 electoral votes by more than 10,000 votes.

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"The election of Nov. 3, 2020 in Maricopa County was free, fair and accurate," Sellers told the panel. "Maricopa County is the second largest voting district in the United States of America. I sit before you today as a Republican who was voted into office in November of 2020."

Sellers also was on the ballot and was elected to a four-year term.

Gates warned about the repercussions if elected officials refuse to accept the results and expressed disbelief that he was experiencing it in the United States.

"This is without a doubt the biggest threat to our democracy in my lifetime," Gates said. "If elected officials continue to choose party over truth, then these procedures are going to continue on these privately funded, government backed attacks on legitimate elections."

Bennett, who was the Arizona state senate liaison to the Cyber Ninjas review, was pressed about the results of the survey. He told the panel that the hand count found 350 more votes for Biden.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., underscored that Republican election leaders from Arizona have testified that the election in Maricopa County -- home to Phoenix, the nation's fifth largest city -- was "the most secure, verified election in our history" and that has been repeatedly confirmed.

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"They have told us that the attacks on the election are a scam to keep people angry and donating," the lawmaker said. "They have said that the attacks on the election are lies. They have explained to us that the elections in Arizona were free, fair and accurate and that Joe Biden won by more than 45,000 votes."

"And yet still, we have people today in this hearing trying to perpetrate the big lie, which their own concocted audit itself discredited," Raskin added.

In one exchange, Raskin asked Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., "Who won the election in Arizona, Donald Trump or Joe Biden?"

Biggs responded, "We don't know."

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., insisted that the 2020 election was "indeed compromised."

"We don't know how much because investigations take time yet. As of Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden was indeed inaugurated president," Higgins said. "Listen good. On Jan. 20, 2025, we're going to fix that. And Democrats will have an opportunity to deal with the real accurate and newly inaugurated President Donald Trump again."

An earlier audit of the 2.1 million ballots by nonpartisan professionals following state laws found no significant problem with how votes were counted in Maricopa County. But Republicans pushed for the outside review by Cyber Ninjas, which had no election audit experience.

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Doug Logan, the chief executive officer and principal consultant of Cyber Ninjas, was invited to testify before the committee but declined to appear. The panel also has sought documents from the organization, whose review cost taxpayers $400,000 while it raised millions from outside groups. Cyber Ninjas has rebuffed the committee's request.

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