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Former President Donald Trump speaks during his Save America rally in Perry, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP) Former President Donald Trump speaks during his Save America rally in Perry, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP)

Former President Donald Trump speaks during his Save America rally in Perry, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman September 28, 2021

Trump falsely describes Arizona audit findings

If Your Time is short

  • Arizona state Senate Republicans ordered a review of 2 million ballots in Maricopa County. The review found that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes. That number was virtually the same as the county’s official canvass.

A GOP-led review of 2 million ballots in Maricopa County, Ariz., confirmed on Sept. 24 what official election results showed months ago: Joe Biden won the county in the 2020 election.

But speaking the next night to a crowd of fans in Georgia, Trump insisted that Biden lost. 

"We won on the Arizona forensic audit yesterday at a level that you wouldn’t believe," Trump said during a Sept. 25 "Save America" rally in Perry, Ga, referring to the ballot review ordered by Republicans in the Arizona state Senate. 

"They had headlines that Biden wins in Arizona when they know it’s not true," Trump added. "He didn’t win in Arizona. He lost in Arizona based on the forensic audit."

In fact, the review found the exact opposite — that Biden had 45,469 more votes than Trump in Maricopa, roughly in line with the official results certified in November 2020. According to the report issued by Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to conduct the review, Biden’s margin of victory was 360 votes larger than the county’s official canvass showed.

"There were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official election canvass results for Maricopa County," the firm’s report said.

Trump’s statement is "complete nonsense," said Benny White, a Republican and longtime volunteer data analyst for the state Republican Party. (White had offered to help check the report’s findings but was turned down.)

"The official results are correct," White said. As for Trump, "he lost."

Biden beat Trump in Arizona by about 10,500 votes, the first time a Democratic presidential nominee had won there since 1996.

Trump spokespersons didn’t respond to our email asking for his evidence.

While the Republicans have referred to the ballot review as an "audit," election experts say that it did not follow typical post-election auditing procedures and lacked credibility.

Meanwhile, during the rally, Trump made other claims about the review. We have fact-checked two of them:

Featured Fact-check

Trump said "there were 17,322 duplicate ballots" which a computer scientist identified as having "surged right after the election was over."  

This is misleading. A scientist who has spread conspiracy theories in the past claimed that he had identified over 17,000 duplicate ballot envelope images. Duplicate ballot images aren’t the same thing as duplicate votes, and there is no evidence that illegitimate votes were duplicated as part of a voter fraud scheme. (There has been scant evidence of any voter fraud in Arizona.)

Duplicate ballot envelopes are created when election officials contact voters with inconsistent or blank signatures to cure their signatures. Each set of "duplicate" images is counted only once. Arizona state law gives Maricopa County staff five business days after an election to contact voters with inconsistent signatures. As a result, there was a spike in duplicate envelopes after the election as workers contacted people who had cast their ballots on or shortly before Election Day, said Megan Gilbertson, a spokesperson for Maricopa Elections Department.

Trump said that "millions of election-related files were deleted," including "a purge of the 'election management system' ... the day before the audit began."

The Maricopa County Elections Department has denied this, saying its 2020 election data was not deleted and instead was archived and backed up elsewhere, as is standard procedure before a forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment, such as the one the county commissioned in February.

Our ruling

Trump said Biden "didn’t win in Arizona. He lost in Arizona based on the forensic audit."

That’s not true.

The review found that Biden won Maricopa by 45,469 votes — a slightly larger margin than the county’s official canvass.

And Biden won Arizona. Nothing in the report written by the Cyber Ninjas contractors stated otherwise. 

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

RELATED: No evidence Maricopa County audit found 17,000 "duplicate" votes

RELATED: No evidence for claim that Maricopa County ‘purged machine records before audit’


Our Sources, Donald Trump Perry, Georgia Rally Speech transcript Sept. 25, 2021

Arizona Senate Republicans, Election audit documents and Cyber Ninjas reports, September 2021

The Audit Guys, Senate Election Review — A review of the draft report, Sept. 23, 2021

Arizona Republic, 'Irresponsible and dangerous': Maricopa County responds to questions raised in Arizona audit, Sept. 25, 2021

Arizona Republic, Senate's audit could have become a tool for election integrity. But experts say it was designed only to sow doubts, Sept. 26, 2021

AP FACT CHECK: Pro-Trump auditors spin election falsehoods, Sept. 24, 2021

AP, ​​AP: Few AZ voter fraud cases, discrediting Trump’s claims, July 16, 2021

Gov. Doug Ducey, Twitter thread, Sept. 24, 2021

Maricopa County Elections Department, Twitter thread, Sept. 24, 2021

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Trump attacks Gov. Kemp, joins pro-Trump candidates in Perry, Sept. 25, 2021

Georgia Public Radio, For Georgia Republicans, Perry Rally Shows It's Trump's World — Or Else, Sept. 26, 2021

Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson and University of Wisconsin political scientist Barry Burden, Report on the Cyber Ninjas Review of the 2020 Presidential and U.S. Senatorial Elections in Maricopa County, Arizona, June 22, 2021

Telephone interview, Benny White, member of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission and volunteer data analyst for Arizona Republican Party, Sept. 27, 2021

Email interview, Barry Burden, University of Wisconsin political scientist, Sept. 27, 2021

Email and telephone interview, Megan Gilbertson, Maricopa County Elections Department spokesperson, Sept. 27, 2021

Email interview, Sophia Solis, spokesperson for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Sept. 27, 2021


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Trump falsely describes Arizona audit findings

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