Election 2020 Protests Phoenix

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, speaks as U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., listens during an Arizona Republican Party news conference, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Phoenix.

(The Center Square) – Arizona’s Republican Party chair said Friday that she's still certain President Donald Trump will prevail there as a party lawyer says the GOP is exploring all legal options.

In a call with reporters, Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Dr. Kelli Ward said, despite media reports saying former Vice President Joe Biden has locked up the state’s 11 electoral college votes, they see an eventual victory for Trump.

“I am still very, very positive about delivering Arizona for President Trump,” Ward said. “Our data shows that we are still on track to deliver this state and our eleven electoral votes for the president.”

The gap between Biden and Trump had narrowed significantly over the last 24 hours, Ward said.

Friday morning’s ballot release from Maricopa County saw an underwhelming 51% of votes go Trump’s way, short of the estimated 56% pace he needed to convince elections experts that he could surpass Biden before all ballots were counted.

As of Friday afternoon, Trump trailed Biden by 39,776 votes, with an estimated 209,000 left to count.

Joining Ward on the call was former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who said the GOP’s legal team was researching all claims about the propriety of the electoral process and would bring a legal challenge if they thought it warranted.

“We have a very strong team of lawyers on the ground here to make sure that every avenue is covered,” he said.

Whitaker would not specify what issues the party’s lawyers were exploring. Ward described complaints from party election judges being kept 20 feet away from screens used to verify ballots, only seeing the computers’ back. Whitaker didn’t say whether that would be the source of a legal challenge.

As of Friday, no one has made public any significant evidence of voter fraud in the state, which has been conducting vote-by-mail elections for more than two decades.

Accusations flew over the use of permanent markers when filling out ballots and whether it corrupted the votes. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, to some criticism, said he would explore the issue. Hours later, he announced that marking ballots with Sharpie’s did not result in a bad ballot.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.