by ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this file photo taken on November 24, 2020 US President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a cabinet announcement event in Wilmington, Delaware. (AFP Photo)
Arizona officials certified the state’s election results on Monday, formalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president’s attorneys continued to make baseless claims of fraud about the state’s vote count.
Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.
“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.
He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.
Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”
Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3 percent of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast. Eleven Democratic electors will meet Dec. 14 to formally cast Arizona’s electoral votes for Biden.
Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.
“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.
Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.
Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.
A judge in Phoenix has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state.
The lawsuit against Biden’s 11 electors in Arizona asks for an inspection of mail-in ballot signatures and duplicated ballots in metro Phoenix, home to 61 percent of Arizona’s voters.
Judge Randall Warner is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities.
Hobbs’ office has said there was no factual basis for such a review. Under questioning from Warner, Ward’s attorney, Jack Wilenchik, said Congress would decide the presidential contest if the results are annulled by the court.
Last week, another judge in Phoenix rejected the Arizona Republican Party’s bid to postpone the certification of election results in Maricopa County — which encompasses Phoenix and is the state’s most populous — and dismissed the party’s legal challenge that sought a new audit of a sampling of ballots.
The certification also paved the way for Democrat Mark Kelly to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, formalizing his victory in a special election to finish the last two years of the term of John McCain, who died in 2018. Kelly is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday in Washington.
The GOP’s Senate majority will fall to 52 members when Kelly replaces Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to McCain’s seat but lost to Kelly in the election.
Control of the next Senate will come down to two runoff elections in Georgia. If Democrats win both, the Senate would be split 50-50, and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris would cast tie-breaking votes.