Not Real News

In this Thursday photo, Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for the Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

CLAIM: A recount of ballots from Arizona’s Maricopa County in the November 2020 election discovered a quarter of a million illegal votes by Monday.

THE FACTS: No results from the audit, which was ordered by Republicans in Arizona’s state Senate, have been released at this time.

Legislators initiated the audit of 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s most populous county during the November election even though multiple lawsuits and audits found no widespread irregularities, the AP reported.

On Friday, Cyber Ninjas, a cyber security firm contracted by the Senate, began the audit. Cyber Ninjas is run by a supporter of former President Donald Trump who has shared unfounded claims that Biden’s presidential win was illegitimate. The audit is expected to take about three weeks to complete, and the company has reserved the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds through May 14 to conduct the recount.

On Monday, claims began circulating on social media falsely suggesting the results of the audit were known.

One popular social media post with over 1,500 shares says, “A QUARTER OF A MILLION ILLEGAL VOTES FOUND IN ARIZONA AUDIT...SO FAR!” But the results of the audit, which began Friday, have not been released. Ken Bennet, a former Arizona secretary of state acting as the Senate’s liaison to the recount, confirmed to the AP the claim is false. When asked Monday if auditors had found 250,000 illegal votes, Bennett responded in a text message, “No.” The Senate audit can’t overturn the results of the election, but Republicans who control the state Senate say it is needed to restore voter confidence and help them craft changes to state election laws, the AP reported. Senate Democrats call the audit an effort to perpetuate false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Experts on election administration and security have expressed alarm at the Senate’s audit, which they say isn’t following standard procedures to transparently and accurately count votes. Biden won Arizona by nearly 10,500 votes and won Maricopa County by just over 45,100 votes.

— Terrence Fraser