On election eve, Arizona's GOP attorney general debunks Trump's Big Lie

Mark Brnovich is fueling the fire of Trump's election conspiracies even while admitting no evidence of fraud

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published August 2, 2022 6:28PM (EDT)

Supporters o US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Maricopa County Election Department while votes are being counted in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 6, 2020. (OLIVIER TOURON/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters o US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Maricopa County Election Department while votes are being counted in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 6, 2020. (OLIVIER TOURON/AFP via Getty Images)

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Maricopa County's 2020 election results while noting "serious vulnerabilities" in the state's voting procedures.

The apparent revelation was detailed in an April report that followed a six-month state investigation. Yet on Monday, one day ahead of primary elections in the state, Brnovich, who is mounting a bid for Senate, was forced to once again debunk election lies propagated by Republican lawmakers in the state.

"Our agents investigated all individuals that Cyber Ninjas reported as dead, and many were very surprised to learn they were allegedly deceased," Brnovich wrote in his letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann. Brnovich explained that "only one of the 282 individuals on the list was deceased at the time of the election."

The attorney general already acknowledged that his office found no substantive evidence of fraud in the county's election. "There is no evidence, there are no facts that would lead anyone to believe that the election results will change," he explained in April. 

Nevertheless, Fann and Arizona Republicans demanded that the attorney general answer "some tough questions from voters and lawmakers who had grave concerns over how the 2020 general election was conducted in Arizona."

Brnovich has spent much of the year trying to placate aggrieved Trump voters without partaking in election denialism.

Investigators with his office's Election Integrity Unit claimed that county officials in the state's largest county "lacked adequate methods to verify voter signatures on early ballots and found holes in its chain of custody for ballots deposited in drop boxes," according to The Arizona Republic

"We have reached the conclusion that the 2020 election in Maricopa County revealed serious vulnerabilities that must be addressed and raises questions about the 2020 election in Arizona," the attorney general wrote in his report.

In one instance, Brnovich expressed concern about the time it took for ballot handlers to verify voter signatures: 4.6 seconds. But according to The Arizona Republic, the attorney general did not explain how he arrived at that figure, or for that matter, why the number should be higher. In addition, Brnovich expressed the apparent need to expand the powers of the auditor general and issue heightened penalties for election crimes. 

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Numerous officials disputed the attorney general's report that the state's election system was riddled with vulnerabilities. 

In a rebuttal statement, both Bill Gates, chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and County Recorder Stephen Richer argued that Brnovich found "no new evidence, nothing that would have changed the results, and nothing that should lead people to question the overall health of our electoral system."

"Unfortunately," they added, "the Attorney General made no mention of the many areas of the election process that his investigators reviewed and found satisfactory, including the preservation of election files and the absence of internet connectivity."

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs' office also joined the chorus, saying that the attorney general "has wasted thousands of hours of time" on "conspiracies." 

"But instead of simply following the evidence," she said, "he speculates. Instead of clarity, he provides conjecture."

Last year, the AP conducted a sweeping analysis of every potential case of voter fraud in the 2020 election and came up with fewer than 200.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Arizona Brief Gop Mark Brnovich Republicans Trump's Big Lie