Washington (AFP) -
A hand count from a controversial review of the 2020 US election results in Arizona's largest county closely tracked the official tally showing Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, a draft copy of a report expected to be delivered on Friday shows.
The Republican-funded review found that Biden defeated former president Trump in Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes, a slight widening of the official margin of victory.
The review by an inexperienced firm called Cyber Ninjas is unlikely to stop Trump from continuing to attack America's democratic system as he mulls another run for the White House in 2024.
But it confirms what was already widely known -- that the 2020 election results will stand.
'This means the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters,' Republican board chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement.
'That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise.'
Arizona has been at the center of a campaign by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election based on the Republican firebrand's unfounded claims about widespread election fraud.
Since leaving office, he has sought relentlessly to undermine confidence in the US election system, and his allies have already begun seeking copycat reviews in other states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile Republican-led states such as Texas, Florida and Georgia have enacted restrictive new voting laws targeting mail-in voting and other practices that boost turnout in response to Trump's claims.
The Arizona review -- dubbed 'the fraudit' -- follows two credible audits that found no problems. It has been marred by complaints over its methods from lawmakers in both parties who warned its findings would not be credible.
The result represents a significant defeat for Trump, who said just hours before the tally was made public that the nation was watching 'to see what the highly respected auditors and Arizona State Senate found out.'
But he is likely to seize on claims of irregularities with tens of thousands of ballots expected to be included in the report.