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The Texas GOP sent a mailer earlier this week that focuses on an election fraud claim out of Arizona in an attempt to attract donations for upcoming congressional races.
The claim stems from a recent audit of the November election in Maricopa County, which includes Arizona's largest city Phoenix, ordered by Arizona’s GOP-controlled Senate. The Senate held a hearing on the ongoing audit July 15 in which they announced preliminary results showing that 74,243 mail-In ballots were counted with "no clear record of them being sent."
The number caught the attention of the Texas GOP. On July 20, the party’s chairman Matt Rinaldi latched onto it in an emailed donation plea.
"Seventy four thousand... That’s how many mail-in ballots were recently found in Arizona that have NO clear record of being sent in," reads the first line of the mailer, sent Tuesday. "That’s exactly why we are fighting so hard for election integrity in Texas."
"For months, the left called us conspiracy theorists, crazies, and even un-American for daring to raise legitimate concerns about the 2020 presidential election," it said.
The preliminary audit results also caught the attention of former President Donald Trump, who issued a statement repeating the same finding: "it seems that 74,243 Mail-In Ballots were counted with ‘no clear record of them being sent.’"
PolitiFact previously rated that claim False, as have numerous other fact-checking teams. Politico called the 74,000 mail-in ballots claim a mischaracterization. CNN characterized the claim as baseless. The Associated Press called it a false narrative. And in a Twitter thread Maricopa County election officials published during the Arizona Senate’s hearing, they said that the audit results are "not based in fact."
In a statement sent to PolitiFact Texas, the Texas GOP spokesperson blamed Democrats for "attempting to overturn election code nationwide."
"If the press and Democrats don't like the fact that 74,000 ballots have either major clerical errors or potential fraudulent backgrounds, they should be asking the Arizona Audit Chief for more information," spokesperson Luke Twombly said. "The Texas GOP has always been committed to election integrity and full transparency. It has only been Democrats who have attempted to overturn election code nationwide and muddy the waters of an election that raised red flags across multiple states."
The Arizona audit chief is Doug Logan, the chief executive officer of Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity firm hired by Arizona Senate Republicans. Cyber Ninjas had no prior experience in election auditing before it was hired, and Logan was an advocate of "stop the steal" conspiracy theories.
During the Arizona Senate hearing, Logan said that a clerical error could explain the 74,243 figure.
"We have 74,243 mail-in ballots where there is no clear record of their being sent. ... That could be something where documentation wasn't done right — there was a clerical issue, there's not proper things there — but I think when we've got 74,000, it merits, you know, knocking on a door and validating some of this information," he said, referring his suggestion to visit voters door to door as part of the audit.
During the hearing, Logan said he based the 74,000 number on two types of early voting reports issued by Maricopa County. But his understanding of what the two files represent was contradicted by Maricopa County officials.
Logan said that the EV32 file records when mail-in ballots are sent, and the EV33 file records when mail-in ballots are received by the county. The discrepancy between the two files accounts for Logan’s 74,243 figure.
However, Maricopa County election officials tweeted that the EV33 and EV32 files are "not the proper files to refer to" for a complete accounting of all mail-in ballots sent and received.
A former Maricopa County election official said the two files are created for political parties to aid them in their get-out-the-vote efforts during early voting, according to the Associated Press. The county is required to provide this data to political parties per Arizona law.
Furthermore, the county records both mail-in ballots and early in-person ballots as early votes, and both are included in the EV32 and EV33 totals.
Lastly, the two files capture votes submitted during different time periods. While the EV32 file includes all requests that voters made for early ballots up to 11 days before Election Day, the EV33 file includes returned early ballots up to the Monday before Election Day, according to the AP.
County officials said that the auditors suffered "a lack of election knowledge & a wealth of political bias."
An audit performed by the election officials earlier this month found 182 clear cases of voter fraud out of more than 3 million ballots cast in last year's presidential election, according to the Associated Press. Each of the 182 cases were referred to investigators and so far four cases have led to charges.
President Joe Biden won the state by about 10,000 votes during the general election.
In a political fundraising mailer, the Texas GOP perpetuated a voting fraud claim based on a partisan Arizona election audit, saying that 74,000 mail-in ballots were recently found in Arizona without a record of ever being sent.
The claim, which has been repeated by Trump and others, has been roundly debunked, both by past and present Maricopa County election officials. For that reason, we rate this claim Pants on Fire.
Emailed fundraiser mailer, Texas GOP, July 20, 2021
PolitiFact, Trump claim about Ariz. mail-ballots is based on misunderstanding of early voting, July 19, 2021
Politico, Sorting out Trump's comments on the Arizona audit, July 18, 2021
CNN, Fact check: Arizona audit chief baselessly raises suspicion about 74,000 ballots, July 18, 2021
Associated Press, FACT FOCUS: A false narrative of 74K extra votes in Arizona, July 16, 2021
Tweets, @maricopacounty, July 16, 2021
Email with Texas GOP spokesperson Luke Twombly, July 21, 2021
The Associated Press, County officials in Arizona reported few suspicious ballots, undercutting Trump's claims, July 16, 2021
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