A group of Arizona Republican lawmakers are calling on Kelli Ward to allow an audit of the state party's January 23 vote that resulted in her reelection as state GOP chair. Ward has so far refused to audit the party's election results despite clamoring from critics.
For weeks after the 2020 general election, Ward spread baseless conspiracy theories that the election was rigged against former Republican President Donald Trump. She also joined the chorus of conservatives calling for audits of the results.
But after Ward narrowly won back her post, some local Republicans called for an audit of those election results. She rejected the demands, saying during a radio interview last week that "everything was above board." The contradictory position made national news.
The letter, which was sent to Ward on Wednesday night, was authored by Republican state Representative Kevin Payne and signed by state Senator T.J. Shope and representatives Shawnna Bolick, Frank Carroll, Regina Cobb, Timothy Dunn, John Fillmore, and Mark Finchem. Nine other GOP lawmakers also signed the letter.
The lawmakers argue that Ward's refusal to allow an audit is hypocritical and hurting Republicans' broader efforts to crack down on local election systems after the 2020 election, in which a majority of Arizonans voted for Democratic President Joe Biden and Senator Mark Kelly.
"For more than the last two months, we have all been joined together in a public call for transparency and accountability in our election process. This included ballot security and integrity, comprehensive audits, and paper trails that allow the average voter to know that their vote counted and that the election results as presented were accurate," the letter states. "Our collective message is being undermined by your insistence that none of these standards should apply to your election as AZ GOP Chairman. This inconsistency is simply not acceptable.
"We urge you to heed the calls of your voters and allow for an immediate audit of the election that was held on January 23rd, in a manner that is fair and transparent. Or we would ask that you remove yourself from efforts to properly audit the elections held in Arizona on November 4th, 2020, as you would be an unwelcome distraction and foil for the media to use to discredit our efforts to protect our state’s voters."
The Arizona GOP did not respond to a request for comment.
Republican lawmakers in the Arizona legislature are pushing aggressive legislation that would undermine voting access in the state and shift around control over the state's election results.
Payne, who authored the letter to Ward, introduced a bill that would require that voters get their mail-in ballots notarized. And Bolick, a signatory of the letter, recently dropped legislation that would allow the legislature to revoke the Arizona Secretary of State's certification of the state's election results any time before the presidential inauguration. Critics argue that the efforts are a response to the 2020 election results and amount to voter suppression.
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