President Donald Trump’s campaign failed to produce evidence to back its claims that thousands of ballots weren’t counted in Arizona’s biggest county because of widespread problems with machinery and poll workers, a lawyer for the Democratic National Committee told a judge.
The Trump campaign and the Arizona Republican Party claimed in a lawsuit that poll workers improperly directed voters to press a green error button that resulted in potentially thousands of ballots going uncounted on Nov. 3. Evidence presented at the hearing showed 191 votes for the president were affected, a figure the campaign ultimately didn’t dispute.
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President-elect Joe Biden leads Trump by 11,034 votes in Arizona, where 11 electoral votes are at stake. Even without Arizona, Biden has been projected to win at least 279 electoral votes, surpassing the 270 needed for victory.
The Republicans’ complaint evolved out of an earlier, failed suit in which the campaign alleged voters were improperly directed to use Sharpie markers to fill in their ballots, supposedly resulting in the votes not being counted.
“The plaintiffs in this case have zigzagged wildly all over the place,” Sarah Gonski, a lawyer for the DNC with Perkins Coie, said in a closing statement at the hearing in Arizona state court in Phoenix. “It’s been a moving target throughout this case.”
After six hours of testimony, including from Trump voters who said they were confused by the county’s voting machines, State Court Judge Daniel Kiley said he’d rule later on the campaign’s request to force a manual inspection of the ballots.
The campaign claimed poll workers who assisted voters at vote-tabulating machines inappropriately pushed a green error button alerting voters that they’d voted for two candidates in the same race. Pushing the button casts the ballot while discounting the so-called overvote, and numerous Trump voters said they were concerned that meant their votes weren’t counted.
The campaign’s lawyer, Kory Langhofer, emphasized in his closing argument that the case had never alleged fraud. The campaign backed off its original demand for a full manual inspection of the affected votes and said such a count would be necessary only if it would make a difference in one of the many statewide races.
Scott Jarrett, director of Election Day and Emergency Voting, testified that the green button issue wasn’t raised by the Trump campaign on Election Day and was raised only later, as Arizona Republicans began accusing Democrats broadly of trying to steal the election.
Laura Christians, an Arizona woman who claims her in-person vote for Trump probably didn’t get counted, testified that the sworn affidavit she signed about alleged poll worker shenanigans was written by lawyers.
“They wrote that up and sent it to me to review to make sure it’s what I agreed with,” she said. “I personally did not prepare it.”
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