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WI lawmaker defends Arizona audit trip, blasts GOP critics

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MADISON (WKOW) -- One of the four Wisconsin Republican legislators to travel to Arizona and tour an audit of the November election said Tuesday he was impressed by what he saw and dismissed criticism some Arizona Republicans have leveled at the process.

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Rep. Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) joined Rep. Janel Brantjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Rep. Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton), and Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego) on the one-day visit to Phoenix where Murphy said they were given a 40-minute tour of the audit ordered by Arizona legislators.

GOP lawmakers in that state authorized a private group, Cyber Ninjas, to oversee the audit in which they claim to be conducting a forensic analysis of the ballots cast in Maricopa County.

"The one thing I noticed about this operation is that it was very precise and it was very secure," Murphy said.

Murphy was non-committal when asked whether he would like to see a similar audit performed anywhere in Wisconsin.

"We have cities in Wisconsin that have some big questions," Murphy said. "I think some of the election things that were going on in the city of Green Bay are not what the people of Wisconsin would expect."

Murphy, as well as other Republicans who made the trip to Arizona, have repeatedlypointed to allegations from the former Green Bay city clerk that a consultant brought in by the city with outside money tried to order people around at the city's central count site.

Despite the allegation, critics of the state's administering of the election have not provided any proof the consultant(s) affected the vote tally in Green Bay or anywhere else in the state.

Critics of the Arizona audit include members of the Maricopa County Board; four of its five members are Republicans - including the chairman who called the audit a "grift."

"First of all, I have no idea who's on the Maricopa County Board," Murphy said. "I don't know who they are; people have told me they are Republican, I don't know that. I don't know anything about them."

Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly's committee on elections, on which Murphy also serves, did not respond to a request for an interview Tuesday.

Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) questioned whether Wisconsin Republicans were using the audit to justify more restrictive voting bills as opposed to pushing for a full audit in Wisconsin. Any bills would need the signature of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has said he will veto anything he believes makes voting more difficult.

"There's been a lot of rhetoric and I think that rhetoric is about putting doubt into the minds of voters, trying to drum up support for voter suppression bills that are moving through the legislature," Spreitzer said.

Lawmakers have passed bills this session that would ban clerks from accepting outside grants of money or equipment; requiring people seeking 'indefinitely confined' status to show photo ID and request a new absentee ballot each election (currently, they only do so once before getting one sent automatically); and limiting how many ballot drop boxes a city or village can place.