An Arizona GOP state senator who backed the election audit withdrew her support, attacking the process as botched

·3 min read
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election on May 3, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post
  • Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita thinks the Maricopa County audit has been "botched."

  • She cited poor execution and transparency as reasons for withdrawing her support.

  • The audit, drawing to a close, has been mired in controversy since being launched in March.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Republican Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita withdrew her support for the much-criticized audit of votes from last year's presidential election being conducted in Maricopa County.

Ugenti-Rita in a Twitter thread said that she believed the audit, which was launched in April by a firm owned by an ally of President Donald Trump, had been "botched."

She criticized Senate President Karen Fann for the process, which was authorized by a vote from the legislature.

"I supported the audit, but I do not support the Trump audit any longer," Ugenti-Rita said.

"I wanted to review our election processes and see what, if anything, could be improved. Sadly, it's now become clear that the audit has been botched. The total lack of competence by @FannKfann over the last 5 months has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive accounting of the 2020 election," she wrote.

In comments to The Washington Post on Thursday she repeated her concerns, and said that she was particularly worried by the delay in concluding the audit, the lack of transparency, and the extent to which the process had been delegated to Cyber Ninjas.

She also said that Fann had failed to control expectations, allowing Trump and his allies to falsely claim the result of the audit could be used to overturn the result of the election, which Joe Biden won both in Arizona and overall.

Ugenti-Rita's decision to withdraw support for the audit is significant because the Republicans hold a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate, meaning Fann faces potential defeat in future votes on the audit.

The GOP-controlled chamber authorized the audit in April, using around $150,000 of taxpayer money. Most of the funding came from Trump-supporting private donors.

Fann has defended the audit, saying it is necessary for restoring trust in the elections, even though there had already been two prior audits which did not reveal evidence of widespread fraud.

Insider has contacted a representative for Fann for further comment.

The audit has been beset by controversy since being launched in April, with contractors at one point searching for traces of bamboo on ballots, seeking to confirm a conspiracy theory that thousands of illegal votes were sent from China.

Maricopa County election officials and election observers from the office of the Arizona secretary of state have decried the recount as shambolic and motivated by a partisan desire to delegitimize Biden's win.

The audit of ballots wrapped up this week, long after its projected completion date. The physical ballots were returned to Maricopa County officials, and the Cyber Ninjas is due to issue a report in the coming weeks.

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