The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is calling on Arizona’s Senate president to end a presidential election audit that it calls a “sham.”
What You Need To Know
- The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the Arizona Senate President Karen Fann imploring her to put an immediate end to the audit into the presidential election
- Board Chairman, Jack Sellers excoriated Cyber Ninjas, the small Florida cybersecurity firm contracted to lead the audit, over its inexperience with recounts
- The board said it will not appear at a Senate hearing Tuesday to answer questions, and Sellers also said the board will not respond to any further requests related to the audit
- The board members threatened to sue if senators or auditors accuse them of breaking the law and called on other elected Republicans with doubts about the audit to speak up
The board held a special meeting Monday after Arizona Senate President Karen Fann sent it a letter last week voicing concerns about possible deleted data and anomalies in the ballots’ chain of custody.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers excoriated Cyber Ninjas, the small Florida cybersecurity firm contracted to lead the audit, over its inexperience with recounts.
He said the company did not know how to properly search for the information it suggested was missing. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, said no election files have been deleted.
"They don’t know what they’re doing,” Sellers said. “And we wouldn’t be asked to do this on-the-job training if qualified auditors had been hired to do this work."
Sellers accused Fann, a Republican, of attempting to legitimize “a grift disguised as an audit.”
The board sent a 14-page letter to Fann imploring her to put an immediate end to the audit, arguing that the contractors are “in way over their heads.”
“The November 3, 2020 general election was free and fair and conducted by the Elections Department with integrity and honor,” they wrote. “Regardless of your intentions when you decided to subpoena our equipment and ballots, this cannot really be what you envisioned.”
Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by 10,457 votes in Arizona — and 45,109 in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county.
Trump has claimed he lost because of widespread election fraud. However, some 60 lawsuits challenging the election results were rejected by the courts. The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Association of State Election Directors described the election as "the most secure in American history.” And former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have changed the outcome of the election.
Maricopa County investigated and upheld its election results three times.
Republicans in the state Senate, however, ordered the audit, which began last month, subpoenaing Maricopa’s ballots and voting machines. They hired Cyber Ninjas, which is owned by a Trump supporter who has promoted election conspiracies, to conduct the audit along with several subcontractors.
The review has no formal legal authority and cannot change the results of the presidential election. But it’s being closely watched by Trump and his supporters.
About 25% of Arizona’s votes had been recounted as of last week, when the contractors had originally estimated the review would be completed. It is now expected to continue into the summer.
The Maricopa board said it will not appear, as requested by Fann, at a Senate hearing Tuesday to answer questions, with one member dismissing it as “political theater.” Sellers also said the board will not respond to any further requests related to the audit.
“Finish what you’re calling an audit and be ready to defend your report in a court of law,” he said.
Fann has also demanded an administrative password for vote-counting machines, but county officials say those are maintained by the system's manufacturer, Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which says it will only give such access to certified election vendors. None of the firms involved in the audit is certified.
Four of the board’s five members, including Sellers, are Republicans.
Fann is expected to respond to the panel’s letter at Tuesday’s meeting.
Over the weekend, Trump, without evidence, amplified claims of missing data in the audit by saying in a statement that the “entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!”
Richer responded on Twitter by calling the accusation “unhinged.”
“We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer,” he wrote. “As a party. As a state. As a country.
“This is as readily falsifiable as 2+2=5.”
The board members threatened to sue if senators or auditors accuse them of breaking the law and called on other elected Republicans with doubts about the audit to speak up.
"Elected Republicans, I think, are afraid of the next election and they can't be," said Vice Chairman Bill Gates, also a Republican. "They've got to stand for what is right. Otherwise, why did they run for office in the first place?"
Cyber Ninjas did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. In a previous statement, the company said of the audit: “What’s important to remember is that Cyber Ninjas is the coordinating firm of four companies conducting components of the audit,” it said in a statement. “In each component, the company administering that work has election experience in that area. Each member of our team has been part of election audits, including Cyber Ninjas, which was part of election audits in Michigan and in Georgia.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.