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How different were 2016 and 2020 election precincts in Maricopa County?

Ballot
Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 17:52:12-04

PHOENIX — State Senate Republicans announced that they have hired an auditing team to investigate the 2020 election. The lead auditor Doug Logan, owner of a company called Cyber Ninjas based out of Sarasota Florida, has demonstrated on several occasions on a now-deleted Twitter account that he believes that systemic election fraud occurred.

Among several faucets of the audit, the team informed the senate that they will be conducting a review of a sampling of Maricopa County’s voting precincts based on “statistical anomalies and precincts size.”

This begs the question; are there any precincts in Maricopa that, at first glance, had statistical anomalies?

ONE WAY TO DETECT ANOMALIES: DISTANCE TO THE URBAN CENTER

Maricopa County is politically no different than nearly every moderate or large population center in the United States; regions near the urban core are significantly more Democratic than the surrounding suburbs and exurbs. This means that voting precincts closer to Downtown Phoenix would have been expected to provide a much higher share of their vote to Joe Biden while Donald Trump should have captured a higher vote share of precincts that should rise the farther away the precinct is from the urban core.

ABC15 looked at both the 2020 and 2016 presidential election results in Maricopa to see if anything stood out as anomalous. Check out the charts below.

In this chart, most precincts in Maricopa County follow the expected pattern. Donald Trump’s margins typically increase the farther a precinct is from Downtown Phoenix. There are a few small outliers that show a low vote share for Trump combined with a high distance from Downtown Phoenix. These outliers are precincts on tribal land, areas that have a history of supporting Democratic candidates.

Even with 2020 precincts following the expected pattern of “blue” precincts being closer to the urban core, how does this compare with the same chart from 2016? There was a change in precincts between 2016 and 2020 so ABC15 used geographic data to fit the 2016 precinct boundaries to the 2020 boundaries. Using this method, a precinct that had an extraordinarily high difference between results in 2020 and 2016 would be noticeable, especially since the chart is measuring the percentage of the vote share for Trump. In fact, the chart is nearly identical to 2020, meaning that Trump received approximately the same level of support in precincts depending on their distance from Downtown Phoenix.

Why is this important

People who believe that the election was stolen from Donald Trump often point to factors like vote switching by the election tabulation machines or fake ballots being brought in. However, if either of these two events occurred in 2020, it would have most likely caused more red precincts to show up in the top right portion of the 2016 chart.

While there is some movement between the precincts, none of it rises to unexpected levels. Donald Trump’s share of the vote only changed by half a point from 48.6 to 48.1 in Maricopa County. If fraud did occur, it was likely not due to anomalous precinct results.