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The chair of Arizona's Republican Party is facing demands for an audit of her party's own recent election. Here's Ben Giles of member station KJZZ in Phoenix.
BEN GILES, BYLINE: On Saturday, Ward claimed victory in a tight race for chair. Party officials announced she defeated Sergio Arellano, a southern Arizona businessman, by 42 votes. Two days later, the state party tweeted a video of Ward boasting of her win.
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KELLI WARD: I've been told that the lobbyists, the slime, the consultants in Washington, D.C., thought they were finally going to be rid of me, that they were finally going to be rid of Trump. Well, I've got news for you, folks, I'm still here.
GILES: That same day, Arellano sent a letter to party officials demanding an audit of the election. A handful of Republicans have echoed that call, citing irregularities in the way party officials handled and counted votes. Concerns mounted the day of the election when a candidate for a congressional district committee seat was announced as the winner. Hours later, officials said there'd been a mistake. She'd lost. Trey Terry is an active member of the Republican Party in the West Valley of metro Phoenix.
TREY TERRY: There are a lot of questions. There are a lot of concerns. And this is, you know, supposed to be the party of election integrity. And I don't think we had that on Saturday.
GILES: Terry's biggest concern - a lack of transparency about the results. It's been nearly a week and the party still hasn't released a full count of the votes for party leaders. A final tally wasn't shared with Republican voters until Thursday evening. Terry said that's unusual. Vote tallies are traditionally read out loud the day of the election, Kim Owens, who supported Arellano's bid for party chair, said other Republicans are upset the party breached protocol and didn't allow witnesses to observe the counting process. Owens doesn't expect an audit to upend Ward's reelection. But, she said, it's critical for a party that claims to care a lot about election integrity to ensure its own vote was run properly.
KIM OWENS: We can't just talk the talk. We have to walk the walk. And this is a perfect example of if there was nothing to hide, there's nothing to hide. Let's put it all out in the open. Count the vote.
GILES: Party officials, including Ward, have not responded to their fellow Republicans. The party sent a letter to Republicans claiming votes were counted appropriately. The letter did not address demands for a recount but said the results were final.
For NPR News, I'm Ben Giles in Phoenix.
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