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Georgia elections official slams Arizona audit as 'neither transparent nor, likely, legal'

The Hill logo The Hill 4/27/2021 Jordan Williams
a person wearing a suit and tie: Georgia elections official slams Arizona audit as 'neither transparent nor, likely, legal' © Getty Images Georgia elections official slams Arizona audit as 'neither transparent nor, likely, legal'

A Georgia elections official slammed an audit of ballots cast during the 2020 elections in Maricopa County, Ariz., as "neither transparent, nor likely, legal."

The audit of Maricopa County - the largest county in Arizona - comes as Republican lawmakers in the state seek to back former President Trump's claims that the 2020 election was tainted by voter fraud.

Such claims by Trump and his allies have largely been disputed.

Elections officials at the state and federal levels - including former Attorney General William Barr - have said that the 2020 elections were not subject to widespread voter fraud.

Gabriel Sterling, a top elections official in Georgia, decried the audit as an attempt to "undermine confidence in elections."

"This 'audit' in Arizona is another step in undermining confidence in elections. This process is neither transparent nor, likely, legal," Sterling said on Twitter.

"Any 'findings' will be highly suspect now that chain of custody has been violated by partisan actors," he added.

Sterling, a Republican, gained national attention last year for defending the validity of Georgia's elections against attacks from Trump and his GOP allies. He notably held a lengthy press conference during which he debunked multiple conspiracy theories pushed by the GOP about the election.


Video: Controversy over GOP-led election audit in Arizona (CBS News)

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President Biden won the 2020 election in Georgia by close to 12,000 votes over Trump, becoming the first Democrat in more than 20 years to win the state.

Following the election, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and asked him to "find" more than 11,000 votes, according to recordings of the exchange.

Sterling has since defended Georgia's S.B. 202, the controversial voting legislation Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law in late March.

Democrats have panned the new law as a form of voter suppression.

Maricopa County, which swung for Biden, has turned in 2.1 million ballots and 400 tabulation machines to the state Senate following a subpoena.

Biden narrowly won Arizona by about 10,000 votes over Trump, making Biden the first Democrat to carry the state since 1996.

A lawsuit over the audit was reassigned to a new judge on Monday, less than a day before its hearing was set to begin.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) told CNN on Monday that the effort "seems like a farce" and should end.

"A group of Republicans are continuing to try to appease their base who refuse to accept that ... Trump lost Arizona and that he's not the president anymore," Hobbs said.

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