Fact check: No evidence Maricopa County election audit has found widespread election fraud

The claim: The Arizona recount has found 250,000 fraudulent votes 

Maricopa County, Arizona, began its election audit on April 23. Nearly six months after President Joe Biden won Arizona by nearly 10,500 votes and Maricopa County by over 45,100 votes, auditors are set to hand count 2.1 million ballots in the county.

This audit is unprecedented and heavily contested by Democrats, some Republicans and election officials. State Senate Democrats say that the audit will amplify baseless claims of voter fraud and diminish public trust in Arizona’s election system. A County official and the state Democratic Party argue the recount procedures violate state election laws and pose a security threat. 

Despite numerous county audits that confirmed the initial election results and several fruitless lawsuits from former President Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies, the Republican-led state Senate said it would conduct the audit to ensure the integrity of Arizona’s election system.

Officials unload election equipment into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Phoenix. Maricopa County officials began delivering equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden on Wednesday and will move 2.1 million ballots to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (Photo: AP Photo/Matt York)

The Senate has said the audit’s findings will not be used to overturn the 2020 election outcome.

The Arizona Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the private company hired to oversee the audit, have kept the proceedings and findings private. Members of the press have not been allowed access to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the recount will take place through May 14.

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Cyber Ninjas’ involvement in the recount is controversial since its founder, Doug Logan, promoted unfounded claims of election fraud on social media and supported an effort to overturn the election results in Michigan. 

Neither the Senate nor Cyber Ninja has announced a discovery of widespread election fraud, but that hasn’t stopped social media users from making false claims online.

“A quarter of a million illegal votes found in Arizona’s audit…so far!” claims one April 27 post.

USA TODAY requested comment from several accounts that posted the widely-shared claim.

Arizona Senate confirms it hasn’t announced that finding

Ken Bennett, Arizona Senate liaison and former Arizona secretary of state, told USA TODAY claims that the audit found 250,000 fraudulent votes were “absolutely not” true. 

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (left) takes custody of a pallet of ballots before an audit of the 2.1 million election ballots at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 22, 2021. (Photo: Patrick Breen/The Republic)

ArizonaAudit.com, the official webpage for the election audit, does not include any such announcement.

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USA TODAY has previously debunked false allegations about election fraud and the Maricopa County audit. False claims have alleged there were issues on both a local and national scale. None of the fact checks found any evidence of widespread fraud.

Our rating: False

The claim that the ongoing Maricopa County election audit has found 250,000 fraudulent ballots is rated FALSE because it is not supported by our research. The Arizona Senate liaison for the audit confirmed to USA TODAY that no such announcement has been made. Numerous prior county audits and lawsuits have confirmed the initial 2020 election results.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Arizona Republic, April 22, “Arizona Democrats sue to try to stop Senate’s election audit just before it begins”
  • The Arizona Republic, April 26, “All observer shifts full for now as Arizona election audit continues Monday”
  • USA TODAY, Nov. 3, “2020 Arizona Election Results”
  • Associated Press, April 27, “Results have not been released in Arizona election audit”
  • The Arizona Republic, April 23, “First day of Arizona Senate election audit nearly stopped before it began. Here’s what happened”
  • The Arizona Republic, April 24, “Arizona election audit: Here’s what you’re seeing on the video feeds as counting continues Saturday”
  • USA TODAY, March 31, “Founder of company hired to conduct Maricopa County election audit promoted election fraud theories”
  • USA TODAY, April 27, interview with Kenneth Bennett, Arizona Senate Liaison 
  • ArizonaAudit.com, accessed April 27
  • USA TODAY, Nov. 17, “Fact check: What’s true about the 2020 election, vote counting, Electoral College”
  • USA TODAY, April 27, “Fact check: Dominion attorneys did not try to stop Arizona ballot audit”

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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