Maricopa County Says Arizona Senate Election Auditors’ Claims False
Private contractors hired by Arizona Senate Speaker Karen Fann to audit the Maricopa County general election don’t know what they’re doing, and the county hasn’t removed any election records, officials retorted county Monday.
Jack Sellers, chairman of the county supervisory board, accused Fann of trying to legitimize “a scam disguised as an audit”.
He said that the entrepreneurs, led by a Florida-based cybersecurity firm called Cyber Ninjas who was hired to lead the audit despite no experience, thought files were missing because “they don’t know what they’re doing. And we wouldn’t be asked to do this on-the-job training if qualified auditors had been hired to do this work.
County recorder Stephen Richer, in the live meeting, addressed concerns raised by Fann and listeners, including questions about the files, how the ballots were processed and access to routers and county passwords.
Along with sending a technical response to questions from the President of the State Senate, supervisors unanimously approved a letter to Fann calling on him to end the audit.
“You, Senate Speaker Fann, are the only one who can put an end to it immediately,” they wrote in the letter. “We implore you to recognize the obvious truth: your listeners are way above their heads … It is time to end it. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the country and for the good of the democratic institutions which define us as Americans. “
The manual ballot recount began on April 23 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but had only counted around 500,000 by May 14, when contractors were initially scheduled to complete. The audit should now continue until the summer.
Maricopa County Response to Questions
The directory of files that contractors identified as deleted was never deleted, Richer said.
On the contrary, county officials speculate that the contractors did not properly download or search the county databases, causing the database and directories to appear missing.
“All the files requested by the Senate are there. No 2020 election records have been deleted. We haven’t deleted any – no electoral records,” Richer said.
In addition, the subpoenas that Senate Republicans filed to obtain the ballots, voting machines, and county data did not request archived files from the database, and the county had archived some. files before a court decides it should provide the database.
Auditors should still have custody of the missing 2020 files, as another part of the subpoenas specifically requested the files, county officials told The Arizona Republic ahead of Monday’s meeting.
The contractor and Fann also asked how the ballots were provided to them.
The county said contractors were confused about how many ballots should have been in each lot because they had not subpoenaed newspapers that would have shown them when the ballots were removed from their pockets. original batches for duplication because the original bulletin could not be read by Machines.
The entrepreneurs would have recognized that they lacked information if they had experience reading election newspapers, Richer said.
Richer reiterated that the county would not hand over its routers because it is a security risk.
“We don’t know why Cyber Ninjas would need the routers because they don’t have any electoral information,” he said.
He also reiterated that the county does not have a certain password for its voting machines that contractors want.
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Richer said the administrative password for Dominion, the company behind the voting machines, was not needed to run an election. “It’s like how you can run Microsoft Windows on your computer without having access to Microsoft Windows source code.”
While county officials have attempted to correct the record over Senate concerns, Monday’s meeting comes days after misinformation began to circulate on social media.
The anonymous group managing the audit’s social media accounts posted on Twitter on May 12 that the directory they claimed to have been deleted was “evidence theft.” The tweet was shared approximately 14,000 times and the claim was broadcast by right-wing media.
Former President Donald Trump sent an email on Saturday saying the county had broken the law, which Richer says “unbalanced” in a Twitter response the same day.
Richer told Monday’s meeting that Fann’s letter raising concerns and questions shows “complete detachment from the audit process and his lack of knowledge of electoral procedures.”
The salespeople, at the close of the meeting, said, “I just want to be clear, I will no longer respond to requests for this fictitious process. Complete what you call an audit and be prepared to defend your report in court. We are all looking forward to it. “
Fann defended the audit on Monday afternoon, saying it was “about electoral integrity and responding to the questions and concerns of our voters.”
She said she had just received the letter from the county and that Senate leadership will review and respond in a meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, which will be broadcast live. County supervisors and Richer declined the invitation.
County: Missing files may be due to contractor error
The audit has three main parts: a full recount and inspection of 2.1 million ballots, a review of county vote counting machines, and a review of the voters’ lists.
While Cyber Ninjas is leading the audit, there are many contractors doing the work. Fann did not say which one claimed to find the deleted files.
Fann’s letter claimed the county had deleted a directory of files, as well as the “main database for all election data for the November 2020 general election.” She said it appeared these files would be relevant under Senate subpoenas.
She included a screenshot showing a list of over 28 missing directories or files.
Fann didn’t give the county the full report of the missing data, just the screenshot, which didn’t show the full names of the files or even the full list of files.
Supervisors have asked county IT workers to review the screenshot and respond in detail to why each directory may appear missing, even though the county has provided all of the data requested as part of the subpoenas. .
Overall, the supervisors wrote in their letter to Fann, it appears the contractors used a program to try to identify the missing files, and when they found any, they automatically assumed the county had them. deleted.
The contractors likely couldn’t locate the files because they downloaded county data incorrectly or searched incorrectly the files they uploaded, county elections and IT officials told The Arizona Republic before the town hall meeting.
The error messages visible in the screenshot indicated this explanation, they said.
“The failure of your so-called ‘auditors’ to locate the data files on the copy they made of the county server is more testament to their incompetence than to the integrity and actions of our dedicated public employees,” the supervisors wrote in their letter to Fann.
County officials also told The Republic they archived some databases and files long before a court ruled that Senate subpoenas were valid and subpoenas did not request archived data. .
The missing database contains the logs from which certain 2020 ballots were judged or reviewed for voters. The county provided ballot referee records, as well as copies of the refereed ballots, in response to a different portion of the subpoenas.
Archiving of files is common and necessary to make room in the county’s election management system for future elections, officials said. In this case, the county needed to free up space for the Goodyear election in March.
Auditors do not have the final count of batches of ballot papers
Perhaps the most damning claim Fann made about the county’s tracking and storage of ballots was that the county had incorrectly counted the number of ballots in each batch.
The county has meticulous procedures for keeping track of ballots that go beyond state law. This includes sorting the first ballots it receives into batches of no more than 200 ballots and keeping a slip with each batch containing information about the initial number of ballots in the batch.
Listeners provided five examples where he claimed there was a discrepancy between the number of ballots the county said were in a batch with the actual number of ballots.
The auditors, however, did not have the final count for the county.
The Senate, in its subpoenas, did not ask the county for sheets showing the final number of ballots in each batch.
Workers separate ballots from batches that machines would have difficulty reading, such as torn or stained ballots. These ballots are then duplicated by bipartite boards and the duplicated ballot is used instead. The county keeps the original ballots and their duplicate ballot, but they keep them separate from their original lot.
For example, the auditors saw on the slip attached to a batch that there were 197 ballots in the batch. But 10 had been deleted for duplication. So when listeners counted the ballots, there were 187. All of this was recorded on another sheet, which the county released on Monday.
While the letter from the supervisors explained these technical details in detail, they also explained in detail why they believed the audit was a sham and the contractors were unfit for the job.
“They don’t know the laws, or procedures, or best practices,” the supervisors wrote. “It is inevitable that they will come to questionable conclusions.”