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Trump campaign’s Arizona suit over in-person voting fizzles

Erik Larson and Mario Parker
Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s campaign is walking away from a lawsuit alleging widespread irregularities involving a green error button on voting machines in Arizona’s biggest county – one day after state evidence presented at a hearing revealed only 191 ballots were affected.

The campaign’s lawyer, Kory Langhofer, said in a court filing Friday in Phoenix that the number of ballots involved made the dispute irrelevant for the presidential race. Major media outlets have called Arizona for President-elect Joe Biden, who leads Trump by 11,034 votes in the state.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally outside the Arizona state capitol Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Phoenix.

“As we’ve said, the Trump campaign’s lawsuit was frivolous and their motion to withdraw any claims of relief related to the presidential campaign confirms that this was nothing more than a waste of time,” the Biden campaign said in an emailed statement. “It’s time to unite the country and move forward.”

The campaign and the Arizona Republican Party claimed that poll workers improperly directed Election Day voters to press a green button on tabulation machines that resulted in potentially thousands of ballots going uncounted because the voter may have accidentally selected two candidates for the same race. But the evidence didn’t back that up.

The campaign claimed the potential for error amounted to discrimination against in-person as opposed to mail-in voters. It had been seeking a hand recount of the affected ballots. Trump voters who testified at a hearing Thursday said they didn’t know for sure that their votes weren’t counted, and some admitted they reviewed their ballots and found no so-called overvotes. At least one said she became convinced her vote had been tossed after talking to a lawyer who prepared an affidavit for her to sign.

“All parties acknowledge that in-person voters, who were likely predominantly Trump voters, were disenfranchised by having their votes kicked out by the machines in Maricopa County, so for Democrats to celebrate that fact is shameful,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement. “We continue to explore President Trump’s options in Arizona.”

The Republicans’ complaint evolved out of an earlier, failed suit in which the campaign alleged voters were improperly directed to use Sharpie markers to fill in their ballots, supposedly resulting in the votes not being counted.

Tom Liddy, a lawyer for Maricopa County, blasted the campaign and state Republicans during Thursday’s hearing for linking the county’s election to an unproven conspiracy about Democrats stealing the election. He referenced the party’s public effort to promote the “stop the steal” slogan while producing no evidence of such a scheme in court.

“Stop the steal! Stop the steal! And send money!” Liddy said sarcastically. “Words matter. And now the plaintiffs are trying to move goal post.”