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Pro-Trump Republicans are flocking to site of partisan Arizona ballot audit

One of the recent Republican visitors, Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, tweeted "#auditeverystate."
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Republican lawmakers and officials from at least seven states have toured or plan to tour the site of the partisan ballot review in Arizona as former President Donald Trump continues to spread the lie that his loss was the result of fraud.

The Republicans, some of the most pro-Trump figures in their states, are visiting as far-right media personalities and lawmakers have joined Trump's call to expand such reviews outside Maricopa County.

A Washington Post reporter on Thursday spotted Colorado state Rep. Ron Hanks taking a tour of Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, where the Republican-backed review of Maricopa County's election results has slogged on for more than a month. Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, who just lost her bid to be the Republican nominee for governor, toured the facilities Thursday, as well.

IMAGE: Ballot recount in Maricopa County, Ariz.
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for the Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix on May 6.Matt York / AP file

"Thank you AZ Senator Wendy Rogers for the warm welcome," she tweeted Wednesday, along with the hashtag "#auditeverystate."

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate authorized the review of ballots and hired a private company called Cyber Ninjas to conduct it after President Joe Biden flipped the state blue for the first time in decades.

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman visited the coliseum this week. Georgia state Sens. Burt Jones and Brandon Beach made the trip Tuesday seeking "a blueprint for a statewide forensic audit" in Georgia, a conservative radio host said.

Vernon Jones, a Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, visited Wednesday, criticizing Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, for failing to do the same.

A spokesman for the review, Randy Pullen, former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, told NPR that Nevada GOP officials visited the count Monday and that lawmakers from Wisconsin may visit this week. Audit officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

IMAGE: Cyber Ninjas contractors ballots in the 2020 general election
Contractors with Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix examine and recount ballots cast in the 2020 general election in Maricopa County on May 6.Matt York / AP file

Two Pennsylvania state senators — Doug Mastriano and Cris Dush — and state Rep. Rob Kauffman made the trip last week and called for a similar review in Pennsylvania. Trump called on the Pennsylvania Senate on Friday to "conduct a full forensic audit" of the 2020 vote or "there is no way" GOP state Senate leaders "will ever get re-elected!"

A key Pennsylvania House Republican said the House wouldn't initiate a new audit, saying Republicans there, as in legislatures across the country, are focused on altering election laws, instead.

"The PA House of Representatives will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election," tweeted Rep. Seth Grove, who chairs the State Government Committee. "We are focused on fixing our broken election law to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

Mastriano, Eastman, Vernon Jones, Hanks and Chase all participated in pro-Trump events in Washington, D.C., before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Efforts to review last fall's election persist in multiple swing states, with the review of more than 2 million Maricopa County ballots at its center even though previous audits found no evidence of fraud.

IMAGE: Trump supporters protest in Phoenix
Pro-Trump supporters rally to defy the election results hours after Joe Biden was named president-elect outside the Maricopa County elections building in Phoenix on Nov. 7.Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

"I think that people in other parts of the country should be looking at what's going on in Arizona as an example of what not to do," Bill Gates, a Maricopa County supervisor who helps oversee elections, said in a recent interview. Gates, a lifelong Republican, is among the most outspoken Republican critics of the review.

Voter fraud in U.S. elections is exceedingly rare. Trump's top cybersecurity official said the election last year was "the most secure in American history," while then-Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread malfeasance.

In Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and other presidential battleground states, post-election audits or recounts — in some cases, multiple such reviews — have affirmed Biden's win. But those who still question the vote say the recounts didn't go far enough.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said the partisan ballot review in Maricopa County effectively creates a road map for Republicans elsewhere to undermine election results they don't like.

"They are definitely writing the playbook here in Arizona to bring this type of, I don't want to call it an audit, but to other states," Hobbs said in a recent interview. "And it's dangerous. It's continuing to undermine the integrity of our elections. We are now more than six months past the 2020 election. We know that it was secure and that the results reflected the will of voters accurately."