Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita has withdrawn her support for the controversial audit of the ballots from last year’s presidential election, criticizing it as "botched" and "tainted."
In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, Ugenti-Rita said that Arizona Senate President Karen Fann "failed to manage public expectations" for the audit by allowing former President Donald Trump and others to assert that the audit might help them overturn the state’s election results.
"It’s very difficult to see the end. And when it does end, because it’s been so tainted, I think it puts the public in a very difficult position of deciding whether to trust this," Ugenti-Rita told the Post. "Because I’ve been on the forefront of election integrity for over a decade, I care about how this audit is being managed. ... Why would I want an audit that’s run into the ground and doesn’t fix anything?"
The state senator previously tweeted that Fann had demonstrated a "total lack of competence," saying, "I supported the audit, but I do not support the Trump audit any longer.
"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," she added. "The total lack of competence by [Fann] over the last 5 months has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive accounting of the 2020 election. That’s inexcusable, but it shows what can happen when Republicans do not take election integrity deadly serious."
Ugenti-Rita joins many Maricopa County election officials and election observers from the Arizona secretary of state’s office in criticizing how the recount has been handled. The company running the audit, Cyber Ninjas, has never run an audit before, and the company’s founder, Doug Logan, has come under fire for promoting conspiracy theories supporting Trump on social media.
Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer said earlier this week in an interview on Fox News that the repeated claims of election fraud made by Trump and his supporters are "false."
He said, "I'm as Republican as they come. There's a lot I'd be willing to do for a Republican nominee for president, but lie about the election is not one of those things."
Richer said that Trump’s claims about ballots being printed on illegal paper are "disappointing" and "borderline dystopian. And unfortunately, when the president says something like that, it's very hard to put the genie back in the bottle."
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