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The sketchy Arizona election “recount” of the results of the 2020 election is not just undermining democracy, it has flat-out compromised the state’s voting machines too, according to Arizona’s top elections official.
Maricopa County, which gave Joe Biden his slim margin of victory in the state last November, is in the midst of its third outside audit, after two in February found no issues with the county’s voting machines. But this one was commissioned by the Arizona Senate GOP, funded by millionaires, and run by a Florida-based company called “Cyber Ninjas” who’ve been referred to by Maricopa County’s Republican-led Board of Supervisors as “grifters and con-artists.”
On Thursday, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Gov. Doug Ducey expressed grave concerns about the integrity of hundreds of machines, and demanded that they be decommissioned and replaced.
Hobbs wrote a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors that she believed there were problems regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given the chain of custody has been compromised, and election officials do not know what was done to the machines while under Cyber Ninjas' control.
Hobbs added she “did not reach this decision lightly” due to the cost to taxpayers involved. Maricopa County elections department communications director Megan Gilbertson told NBC News that the county last paid $6.1 million for Dominion voting machines in 2019, though not all of the machines were handed over for the recount.
The Board of Supervisors and Arizona Senate President Karen Fann signed an agreement in April requiring the state to pay for new equipment if they were damaged, according to NBC News.
"Decommissioning and replacing those devices is the safest option as no methods exist to adequately ensure those machines are safe to use in future elections," Hobbs wrote. "As such, my office is urging the County not to re-deploy any of the subpoenaed machines that it turned over to the Senate in any future elections. Instead, the county should acquire new machines to ensure secure and accurate elections in Maricopa County going forward.”
Hobbs stressed that her letter applied only to the machines turned over for the Arizona GOP audit which is taking place right now, not the machines which weren’t turned over for use in the current audit which include “Dominion voting system, which remains certified for use in Arizona."
Dominion has been at the center of a baseless conspiracy theory alleging that foreign governments, voting technology companies, and political officials colluded to commit massive election fraud against former President Donald Trump. Dominion has sued various high-profile figures for billions for their part in boosting these claims, which the company says are defamatory, including Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
There is no evidence that there was any tampering with the voting machines or any other sort of election fraud in Maricopa County. But it was one of two states whose electoral votes were challenged in Congress on January 6, and well over a hundred Republican members of Congress voted after the Capitol riot to not certify Arizona’s results. (The votes were ultimately certified.)
Former president Donald Trump has vociferously supported GOP efforts to overturn the election results in Arizona. On Sunday, Trump boosted a baseless claim from the Arizona GOP’s vote auditors last week that county officials “deleted a directory full of election databases,” which the auditors called a “spoliation of evidence!”
“The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!” he said in a statement this week. “This is illegal and the Arizona State Senate, who is leading the Forensic Audit, is up in arms.”
Maricopa’s GOP majority-board sent a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann calling that claim “false, defamatory, and beneath the dignity of the Senate.” The county elections department also prepared a “technical document” explaining why auditors weren’t finding them and exactly how to do so.
“The failure of your so called ‘auditors’ to locate data files on the copy they made of the County’s server speaks more to their ineptitude than it does to the integrity and actions of our dedicated public employees who effectively and accurately run the elections in the fourth largest county in the United States,” the board’s letter said.
The following day, one of the auditors claimed again in a public meeting that the files were deleted, but that he “was able to recover all those deleted files and I have access to them.”
“Sooo... they’ve now ‘recovered’ the allegedly deleted files?” read a message from Maricopa County’s Twitter account Tuesday. “Wonder if our technical document explaining this helped.”