Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward has a new book out revealing what happened behind the scenes with the independent Maricopa County audit of the 2020 presidential election. Ward was one of the first to call for an audit, and was heavily involved in it every step of the way. “Justified: The Story of America’s Audit” is the dramatic saga of how it all went down. As someone who was on the ground in Arizona, close to the polling and privy to intel from the top Republican operatives, Ward believed that an audit was justified since it appeared extremely unlikely that Joe Biden could have won Arizona.
“The state is still very much socially and fiscally conservative — deep red,” she summarized after experiencing the election and audit. “I believed that if every legal vote was counted and every illegal vote was rejected, President Trump would be the uncontested winner of the election.” Ward said the election was far more important than most people realized, “Many people have told me that as Arizona goes, the country goes.”
Ward laid out the case that Trump was leading in Arizona before the election. “It was clear that with nearly two weeks until Election Day, President Trump was in a strong position for re-election, as were Republicans up and down the ballot.” Far more Republicans than Democrats were registered to vote in the six months leading up to the election. “We saw a noticeable shift among newly registered voters that were choosing to identify with the Republican Party in Arizona,” she said. The GOP contacted two-thirds more voters than they did in the 2016 election. In contrast, “Biden’s team openly avoided on-the-ground work because of COVID.”
Going into Election Day, Democrats turned in far more early ballots — so later ballots should have surged for Republicans. Several days after the election, some counties were still counting ballots, and on Nov. 11, 2020, the margin between the two candidates was less than 0.5%, or 12,800 votes between Trump and Biden, with 55,000 votes left to count in GOP-leaning counties.
So Biden’s win in Arizona made no sense to Ward. “Republicans overperformed in nearly every down-ballot race; however, the numbers were down at the top of the ticket despite numerous polls showing the president with historic Republican support.” She also questioned, “Even in overwhelmingly blue states such as California and New York, Biden received 63 and 59 percent of the vote respectively. Yet they are expected to accept that 80 percent of mail-in ballots in swing states all favored Joe Biden?”
Ward commended Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott), who led the audit and stood firm despite the massive opposition and hate. She reprinted an exchange Fann had with a CNN reporter, in which Fann handily shot down accusations that she was attacking democracy and promoting conspiracies.
Ward provided explicit details of how Democrats used COVID-19 as an excuse to easily change voting laws at the last minute. “They set out to change voting laws without taking the necessary steps of going through the constitutionally required legislative process to create an opportunity to make it very easy to cheat in the elections of 2020.”
Chapter 4 is titled “Democrats Use the Law to Break the Law.” Ward discusses various nefarious tactics that were used, including Democrats going to court to extend voter registration. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs didn’t put up much of a defense to stop it, so 150,000 extra people registered during this period until it was halted.
After the election, Ward found out that people who showed up to vote provisional ballots may have actually been able to vote them without getting them “cured,” confirmed as valid later. Democrats with provisional ballots were given a phone number by the elections department that provided a message on how to cure a ballot, whereas Republicans were just given the general elections number.
In one chapter of the book, she called out pollsters for their bias leading up to the election. She relayed a horrible experience she had observing at the Maricopa County ballot tabulation center, where numerous troubling events took place. She discussed problems with the Dominion voting machines and the Smartmatic software used with them. The Arizona GOP created a video about Dominion, which she suspected will be censored by Big Tech.
In Ward v. Jackson, a lawsuit she filed shortly after the election challenging the results and demanding to inspect the ballots, the judges did not allow enough time for inspection, nor did they allow them to inspect very many ballots. Refuting Democrats’ claims that no court ever found any election fraud, she said that was because “It was the only election case in the nation where Republicans were actually allowed to inspect evidence.”
In December, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff called her, yelling about her lawsuit with other Republican electors and Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01) against Pence, which merely asked a judge to clarify that Pence had the power to select either party’s slate of electors from a disputed state.
Ward pushed hard for the audit, which she nicknamed “America’s Audit,” and acknowledged, “[I]f we had a wimpy, weak, spineless leader of the Republican Party in Arizona, this audit never would have taken place.” She noted that it was not easy to make it happen. “A full forensic audit of an election in our country has never been done,” Ward said.
She discussed how much Democrats like Hobbs tried to thwart the audit with lawsuits and other types of obstruction. The Maricopa County Supervisors obstructed the audit from beginning to the end. Ward reprinted an epic speech Senator Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) gave on February 9, 2021, denouncing the supervisors’ attempts to obstruct the audit. For her efforts, “in September of 2021, the weaselly ‘Republican’ supervisors were calling for me to resign.”
She called out several Republicans who gave aid to the Democrats, including Maricopa County Attorney Alistair Adel and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (who took office in January 2021, after the election).
She included many of her text messages to election officials, some of which went viral in the media. Most of her texts to the supervisors were ignored. She pleaded with them to take action in many of them, providing reasons such as “The underperformance of Trump in heavily Republican precincts (363) by 68% vs. 2.6% underperformance for Biden in heavily Democrat precincts (230).” Another text pointed out that ABC-15’s data guru Garrett Archer said the biggest swing away from Trump was in a GOP precinct that went from 67.4% for him in 2016 to 58.5% for him in 2020.
She also told the supervisors that almost twice as many ballots were rejected in 2020 for bad signatures and other reasons than in 2016. Yet at the same time, “the number of Arizona voters on the permanent early voting list increased from 1.6 million in 2016 to 2.1 million in 2020.” Arizona turnout for voting was the highest in the country.
Despite the fact a judge finally ordered the audit to take place, it wasn’t complete. Ward lists multiple items that were never turned over, including routers. She went over the results of the audit in detail. Some of the findings were thousands of duplicate ballots with no serial number — yet they are required by law to have a serial number that matches the original ballot. The timing of hundreds of thousands of files that were deleted didn’t appear to be routine deletions or archiving, because it was done on Feb. 1, 2021, the same day the workstations were caught accessing the internet.
She refuted claims by the supervisors that they already conducted two audits. They were “simply recounts of fake ballots” — a sample of 100 fake ballots, not a single ballot from the election.
Ward credited many of the grassroots activists, such as We the People AZ Alliance, headed up by activists Steve Robinson and Shelby Busch, which pushed for the audit. They gathered at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) almost daily after the election, and brought in key national guests to inform the people. Some of them attempted to recall the supervisors.
Refuting the mainstream media’s portrayal of the tech experts who conducted the audit, Ward listed the lengthy credentials of Cyber Ninjas’ Doug Logan, CyFIR’s Ben Cotton and EchoMail’s Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai.
Ward sarcastically noted that even though Democrats defended the election as being safe and secure, as soon as the audit started, they started filing lawsuits expressing concerns about ballot security. But the audit was done with “full transparency,” livestreamed with media present.
She discussed a canvass of almost 5,000 voters conducted by conservative activist Liz Harris. Harris found lost voters, ghost voters and dead voters. Over one-third of the people she canvassed who were listed as not voting said they did.
Ward recommended solutions. She suggested a full canvass of Maricopa County and probably some other counties — going out and talking to voters. Pima County had several precincts with almost twice as many registered voters as voting-aged people who live there. She recommended numerous changes that can be made through legislation, many which are already winding their way through the Arizona Legislature.
Ward briefly addressed the Jan. 6, 2021 protest at the U.S. Capitol. Although she was not in attendance, House Democrats subpoenaed her phone records from the three months leading up to it. “There were no plans for violence or, for goodness’ sake, an insurrection,” she said. “Before President Trump’s speech had even ended, it appears that left-wing extremists managed to infiltrate the crowd and get to the front. When they reached the barriers and the police on Capitol grounds, they stormed the Capitol.”
Ward refuted accusations that the 91% of Republicans who believe there was fraud in the 2020 election are out of the ordinary. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 78% of Democrats still believe that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and changed the outcome. In 2017, Arizona’s Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-03), “the liberal Democrat Congressman from the southern part of our state, challenged the electoral tally for North Carolina from the 2016 election.”
The book also contains background on Arizona, Trump, and voter fraud in other states. It’s interjected with humor, including this line at the end of the dedication, which begins dedicating the book to Donald Trump: “This book is specifically NOT dedicated to county recorders, county supervisors, secretaries of state, and governors who certified an uncertifiable Arizona election.”
On November 11, 2020, the Arizona GOP started a “Daily Update” to provide news the mainstream news was ignoring, which can be found on azgop.com and social media. More information about the audit is on Ward’s website. Her first book is “Inspired by What’s Right.”
Ward previously served in the Arizona Legislature, where 19 of her bills were signed into law her last year in office.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kelli Ward” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0. Background Photo “Justified: The Story of America’s Audit” by Amazon.