“GOP sidesteps ‘cooking the books’ claim in Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema Senate race”

Arizona Republic:

A top national Republican on Sunday sidestepped his group’s assertion that the top Maricopa County election official is “cooking the books” for Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona’s still-unresolved U.S. Senate race.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, made the comments on CNN’s “State of the Union,” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” ahead of another pivotal day in the Arizona race’s tabulation.

Gardner offered no evidence for the NRSC’s book-cooking assertion on the political shows.

“I think what we’ve seen in Arizona is the attempt to make sure like in Florida that we’re treating everybody equally under the law,” Gardner said. “There had been concern that in Maricopa, a process was being used to determine signatures or validations of ballots that differed from other parts … of the state.”

Gardner said legally-cast votes should be treated the same, regardless of differing practices across the counties.

“But where’s the evidence that anybody was cooking the books,” asked CNN host Jake Tapper.

“Well, we had evidence that people were treating ballots differently,” Gardner responded….

Sinema leads Republican candidate Martha McSally by more than 29,000 votes. Elections officials are scheduled to update the tally at 5 p.m. Sunday.

More than 260,000 votes remain to be counted statewide, according to an Arizona Republic estimate of ballots outstanding as of 6 p.m. Saturday.

McSally remains confident she will gain on Sinema with the tabulation of early ballots dropped off at polling locations on Election Day. Those numbers could be reflected in Sunday’s tally.

As Sinema’s lead has grown, GOP officials nationally have suggested that Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, was “cooking the books” for Sinema. That accusation comes as the GOP has suggested outright fraud in Florida in close-elections there.

Last week, Republicans mounted a legal challenge centered on a procedural lack of consistency in the time frame county recorders allow voters to correct signature issues on mail-in ballots. Under a settlement struck Friday, all of Arizona’s counties will allow voters to verify the signatures on their ballots through 5 p.m. on Nov. 14.

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