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Ballots are counted at the Maricopa County Election Department after the presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 5. Photo: Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said in a letter Monday that the Arizona state Senate's GOP-led audit of its 2020 presidential election results should be called off.

Why it matters: The letter underscores divisions in the GOP between loyalists of former President Trump and those denouncing baseless election claims, which saw Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) ousted last Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican after speaking out on the matter.

  • The county officials said in the letter that the audit had left Arizona "a laughingstock." "Worse, this 'audit' is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic."

The big picture: The Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, whose chief has supported unfounded voter fraud claims, is recounting ballots from the election.

  • Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers (R) said at a public meeting Monday he would not be responding to "any more requests from this sham process," per the Washington Post.
  • Trump said Saturday, without evidence, that the "entire Database of Maricopa County" had been deleted, prompting county recorder Stephen Richer to tweet that the claim was "unhinged," adding: "We can't indulge these insane lies any longer."
  • Per WashPost, Richer told the meeting: "Every file the Senate has asked for is there. No files from the 2020 election have been deleted."

The other side: State Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Warren Petersen (R) tweeted that he was "disappointed to hear that the County has said they will not show to answer questions" at a meeting scheduled on the matter for Tuesday.

Go deeper

Tens of thousands of U.S. students quarantining or isolating due to COVID

A staff member performs temperature checks on students as they arrive on the first day of classes in Orlando, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The school year has just started, and already tens of thousands of students and school staff members across the U.S. are isolating or quarantining after testing positive or possibly being exposed to COVID-19, school districts and other officials said this week.

Why it matters: The announcements come as health officials report an alarming number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 and amid tense debates over whether masks should be mandated for students and teachers.

Defying DeSantis, Florida's largest school district to require masks

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho speaks on the first day of the 2020-21 school year. Photo: Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The school board in Florida's largest school district voted Wednesday to require masks for students and teachers when schools reopen next week amid rising Delta-variant COVID-19 cases.

Why it matters: The mask mandate, which allows for medical exemptions, makes Miami-Dade the latest Florida school district to defy Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who issued an executive order that effectively prohibits school districts from imposing mask mandates and threatens to cut funding of those who do.

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

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