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Arizona secretary of state tells Trump before election lie rally: get over it

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Brandon Bell/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Arizona’s secretary of state had a message for Donald Trump before he appeared in Phoenix on Saturday: “Take your loss and accept it and move on.”

Related: I Alone Can Fix It: Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker on their Trump bestseller

Trump later spoke at an event organised by Turning Point Action, a conservative group, and called the “Rally to Save Our Elections!” He did not accept his loss and move on.

Republicans in the most populous county in Arizona continue to pursue a controversial audit of ballots in an attempt to prove Trump’s claim that his loss to Joe Biden in the state, and nationally, was caused by widespread voter fraud. It was not.

Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, spoke to CNN on Friday. Asked what she wanted to tell Trump before he spoke in her state on Saturday, she said: “Well, I mean, like most grownups, take your loss and accept it and move on … Nothing that’s going on here is going to change the outcome, and, really, this is nothing more than being a sore loser.”

Hobbs also said Trump’s appearance – like support for his lies from local Republicans and congressional hopefuls who also appeared at Saturday’s event – was dangerous.

“The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what he says or does,” she said. “Nothing is going to change the outcome of the 2020 election. But it also doesn’t change how dangerous this is.”

Trump’s lie about electoral fraud stoked the deadly attack on the US Capitol in Washington on 6 January. He retains power in the Republican party, which has swung behind him in seeking to obstruct investigations of the assault.

“The bottom line is that Arizonians are tired of being led by conspiracy theorists,” Hobbs said. “They don’t support this fake audit, and they’re ready for leaders who are going to put those partisan games aside and deal with real issues.”

Hobbs is hoping to become governor of Arizona. Midterm elections next year will also see a key Arizona Senate seat up for grabs again. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and a prominent campaigner for gun control reform, won the seat on Biden’s coattails last year. But that was to complete a term and he must now secure a full six years in the seat.

On Friday, Trump blasted “Rinos”, or “Republicans in Name Only” whom he regards as insufficiently loyal. One GOP Arizona state senator offered a pithy reply.

“If he hadn’t started an insurrection in DC and gotten kicked off here,” Paul Boyer wrote on Twitter, “I could’ve responded directly to him. So there’s that.”

In Phoenix on Saturday evening, Trump spoke for close to two hours. He repeated a number of debunked claims about the election in the state.

In mid-May, for example, partisan investigators hired by Arizona lawmakers backed off their allegation that Maricopa county, home to Phoenix, had destroyed its 2020 election database. Confronted with proof that the data still existed, they admitted everything was there.

Trump presented the debunked allegation as a key piece of evidence that the state was stolen.

He also spoke of untold thousands of dead people voting. No such phenomenon surfaced in post-election audits. He alleged 168,000 Arizona ballots were fraudulent. There is no support for that.

Trump also repeated a claim made by Doug Logan, chief executive of Cyber Ninjas, the inexperienced firm leading the Arizona audit, when he said “18,000 people who voted in Arizona in 2020 … were then purged from the rolls immediately after the election”.

Related: Arizona counties find fewer than 200 possible voter fraud cases among 3m 2020 ballots

In fact, 13,320 voters were removed from the rolls in the two months after the election and there were routine reasons why. Voting rolls are updated constantly as people move, die, get convicted of felonies or have their voting rights revoked because of incapacitation.

Maricopa county officials have said 7,916 voters were removed because they moved out of the county or died between 3 November, election day, and 2 January. An additional 5,404 were removed for reasons including convictions, incapacitation or their own request.

The county has about 2.6 million registered voters. Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes out of 3.4m cast in the state. Officials have identified 182 cases where voting problems were clear enough that they referred them to investigators, according to an AP investigation.

Only four cases have led to charges. No one has been convicted. No vote was found to have been counted twice.

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