Taxpayers in Arizona will have to shell out millions of dollars for new voting machines, after election officials revealed the machines subpoenaed for the sham audit in Maricopa County won’t be used again because they now pose “a risk to free and fair elections.”
In April, Maricopa handed the vote tabulation machines over to the state Senate after a judge said that a subpoena for the machines—along with 2.1 million ballots, and voter information—was valid.
The Senate then handed the machines to Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company with no election audit experience, which was given the contract—and $150,000 in taxpayer money—to conduct the audit.
In the months since, local election officials and the GOP-led Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, as well as independent election audit experts, have raised serious concerns about how Cyber Ninjas and several other contractors have run the audit.
The concerns include a lack of transparency about how the audit is being conducted, criticism that the auditors are indulging conspiracy theories about watermarks and bamboo ballots, and the fact that servers were taken out of the state without any explanation why.
These concerns were central to a letter written by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs last month to the Maricopa Board of supervisors, telling them she would “consider decertification proceedings” if the machines were not replaced.
On Monday, the Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County wrote back to Hobbs, telling her it “shares [her] concerns.”
“The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured, the County will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections," county officials said in a Monday statement.
“As a result, the County will not use the subpoenaed equipment in any future elections.”
Officials on Monday night would not say how much it would cost to replace the machines, but Arizona is currently halfway through a $6.1 million, 6-year lease agreement with Dominion Voting Systems.
On Monday night officials told AZCentral said that the county was in discussions with Dominion about the lease, but it was unclear if the county would have to pay the remaining $3.3 million due under the lease.
It is also unclear whether the county or the Senate will be on the hook for the new voting machines. When the machines were handed over, the Senate signed an agreement that said the county is not liable for any damages to the equipment while in the Senate's custody.
But whether it’s the county or the Senate that foots the bill for additional machines, ultimately Arizona’s taxpayers will be paying.
As well as the $150,000 taxpayers stumped up to pay cyber Ninjas for the audit, they have had to cover the cost of light and heat at the Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, where the recount was taking place, and the cost of 24-hour security at the venue.
The county said that it was now working with Dominion to secure new voting machines in time for local elections in November.
Senate Republicans, led by President Karen Fann, agreed to conduct the audit after the conspiracy of widespread election fraud in the county was pushed by QAnon followers. This happened despite a previous independent audit commissioned by the county finding no evidence of election fraud.
The recount has now become the center of a massive push by Republicans to undermine the 2020 election and former President Donald Trump is central to pushing this lie, telling supporters at a rally in Ohio on Saturday that the election was the “crime of the century.”
No matter what findings are reported in Maricopa County, it will have no impact on the election results. And yet more than half a dozen lawmakers from other states have visited the site and suggested conducting similar spurious recounts in their home states.