Two northern Arizona Republicans are hyping the largely speculative evidence of election fraud, echoing President Donald Trump’s claims the election was “rigged” through mail-in voting — especially in cities with large minority populations.

Rep. Paul Gosar has repeatedly issued email allegations centered on unproven claims that voting software somehow shifted votes from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden.

State Rep. Walt Blackman issued an email notice suggesting the Arizona Legislature might step in to award the state’s electoral college votes to President Trump, although the election tally shows Biden winning the state by 10,457 votes, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website tally.

Blackman sent out an email suggesting that the Republican dominated state Legislature could set aside the election results and instead award the state’s 11 electoral votes to Trump. Trump’s team has filed more than 32 election challenges nationally, but won just one case — which didn’t influence the outcome. In many cases, judges have summarily dismissed the challenges for a lack of evidence of any fraud or irregularities that could affect the final vote count.

Recounts in several states have failed to change the outcome. None of the court challenges in Arizona have changed the outcome.

However, the Arizona Republican Party and several lawmakers like Blackman and Gosar have sent out emails suggesting fraud, citing no evidence. The state Republican Party has sent out a drumbeat of fundraising appeals based on alleged election irregularities.

Rep. Blackman’s ambiguous email seemed to support the Trump administration’s strategy of using lawsuits and political pressure to delay the certification of election results in hopes that Republican controlled state legislatures will step in and award electoral votes independently.

In an email, Blackman wrote, “One must understand the great responsibility that State legislators have under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. This Article gives authority to the State Legislatures to direct the election of a President of the United States of America within their States. This authority is not given to any court system. Our Founding Fathers were very wise by giving this responsibility to only elected legislators, not to unelected, unaccountable judges.

“Every legal vote must be counted and the people of Arizona deserve a timely completion of the process. Arizona has extended every opportunity for her people to vote. From early mail-in ballots to absentee ballots to early vote centers to emergency vote centers to curbside voting, to actually taking a ballot to those who cannot come to the polls and to providing polls on election day that open at 6 am and close at 7 pm, every opportunity has been provided for secure, secret ballots.

“As your Representative, I am determined to ensure that Arizona follows these guidelines. Under the U.S. Constitution, our Arizona court system has no authority to make any determinations about the manner the Presidential election shall be conducted. I will work with my legislative colleagues to ensure a fair and true outcome to this very contentious election and I stand ready to reconvene the House and Senate to do the people’s work.”

Blackman did not return an email request for clarification of his email. However, the Trump administration has been contacting state lawmakers and election officials in an apparent effort to get state legislatures to set aside election results and award the state’s electoral college votes directly to Trump.

State election officials nationwide have insisted the election was among the best run in history, despite the record number of votes cast on each side and the blizzard of Republican lawsuits has yielded no evidence of fraud beyond a more or less routine number of voting irregularities like mismatched signatures and voting rolls, none of which has changed election results. However, the Trump administration has now moved directly to mounting a campaign to convince Republican lawmakers to overturn election results. Trump would have to convince three state legislatures to set aside the vote count to prevail.

Trump maintains without evidence that “hundreds of thousands” of fraudulent votes can “flip” the election in four states — enough to reverse the results, despite his popular vote loss by more than 6 million votes. “Hopefully, the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States Itself,” Trump tweeted.

The effort to prevent certification of the vote and set up intervention by Republican controlled state lawmakers now centers on Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia.

Meanwhile, Gosar has been sending out email allegations of election fraud linked to a shadowy conspiracy theory that a voting software firm was somehow bribed or influenced to invisibly change Trump votes into Biden votes.

Gosar’s district includes most of western Arizona, Prescott and Rim Country. He won in a landslide with 70% of the vote and is now one of the leading politicians in claiming unprecedented election fraud.

His claims center on the Dominion Voting Systems equipment, which supposedly shifted votes to Biden. Gosar has repeatedly sent out district newsletters reiterating the repeatedly debunked claim that the widely used Dominion software has a distant connection of Smartmatic Corporation, which allegedly has some kind of connection to the socialist regime of the late Hugo Chavez and which “was reportedly” used to conduct voter fraud, according to Gosar’s newsletter.

Dominion Software was used in Maricopa County and 28 other states — including six swing states. Gosar called for an investigation of possible voter fraud in every place the software was used. Such investigations could delay certification of re-election results past the deadline, potentially leaving the door open to state legislatures to overturn the results.

“Because of the troubling connections regarding the voting software use in several swing states, including Maricopa County, we request that each agency investigate allegations of voter fraud and manipulation stemming from Dominion and Smartmatics,” Gosar wrote Monday in a newsletter to constituents.

Gosar has made various other allegations of voter fraud which have been debunked. For instance, at one point he claimed “thousands” of votes in Maricopa County were “overvoted” and therefore not counted. The potentially double-marked ballots actually amounted to 180, and even if every single vote had gone to Trump, it would not have changed the election outcome. Such errors in marking ballots are common in elections.

Gosar and the Arizona Republican Party have focused heavily on Dominion Voting Software and attacked Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in repeated fundraising appeals. Hobbs has received death threats and Republican protesters have picketed in front of her home.

Independent fact-checkers have debunked the allegations that Dominion Voting Systems software somehow shifted votes in six swing states the Trump campaign has focused on in a blizzard of now mostly dismissed lawsuits. The software was used in a total of 28 states, according to Reuters.

A Reuters fact check noted that misleading social media posts inaccurately suggested the software was used only in swing states that Trump narrowly lost, when in fact the software was in use in a majority of states including states Trump won and states in which Republicans gained House and Senate seats.

The conspiracy theories regarding Dominion Software apparently stemmed from the discovery that a temporary miscount in Antrim County, Michigan assigned thousands of Republican votes to Democrats, due to an error by a poll worker. The tabulation error was quickly caught and fixed and didn’t play a role in the award of any state’s votes to the wrong candidate.

The Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniels claimed election fraud and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Nov. 6 attributed the temporary error to “the erroneous reporting of unofficial results from Antrim County was a result of an accidental error on the part of the Antrim County Clerk.”

The Reuters fact check also declared “false” internet misinformation asserting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had an interest in Dominion software.

The Reuters fact check concluded the claim that Dominion software shifted votes as “False. A temporary miscount of votes in Antrim County, Mich. was a result of human error, not a ‘software glitch’ in the voting equipment.”

Numerous other fact-checking websites have come to the same conclusion, and none of the three dozen lawsuits have uncovered any evidence of voter fraud. Recounts and audits have found thousands of mismarked or uncounted ballots in swing states, but that’s common for an election involving some 150 million votes cast. None of those discoveries have changed the electoral college vote tally, which shows Biden with 306 and Trump with 232. In the popular vote, Biden took 51% of the vote to Trump’s 47%, a lead of more than 6 million votes. This gave Biden the second largest popular vote percentage in the past six presidential elections, second only to Barack Obama’s 7-point margin in 2008.

Biden’s winning margins in the key swing states included:

154,000 in Michigan

81,000 in Pennsylvania

20,000 in Wisconsin

13,670 in Georgia

10,457 in Arizona

Contact the writer at paleshire@payson.com

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(1) comment

James Wise

From the 8 Payson precincts, both Rep. Gosar and the combination of St Reps Barton / Blackman received about 75% of the vote in their respective races (7,892/10,584 and 13,829/18,460). St Rep Blackman actually outpolled Barton by about 9% (7,210/6,619) in their joint contest. I think the Roundup's article on the Gosar-Blackman effort to overturn the Presidential election result in Arizona should be given wider notice. Perhaps Wikipedia and the visitor information section of the town's website would serve. Like mild winters, ample water, recreational opportunities, and trunk or treat, aren't they are part of the Payson climate of which prospective residents, whatever their political affiliation, might wish to be aware?

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