Maricopa County requests preservation of audit materials for potential litigation

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Democrats, including Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and some Republicans have criticized the way the Legislature's audit has been conducted and brought up two other audits that were previously conducted for the county board that showed no irregularities in the latest presidential election.

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The county has hired several companies to conduct audits led by Cyber Ninja, a Florida-based company led by Trump supporters who had no election experience until 2020 and promoted the election plot.

Maricopa County should no longer use hundreds of voting machines because Senate President Karen Fann turned them over to an unaccredited company as part of her election audit, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told the county. It is now conducting an "audit" that has included efforts to detect bamboo in ballots as part of an apparent effort to demonstrate they were fraudulent and made in China. The agreement covers equipment that's "damaged, altered or otherwise compromised while in the Senate's custody and control", and specifies there's no limit to the expense the county can claim "associated with procuring new equipment".

"I have grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines", Hobbs wrote to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is controlled 4-1 by Republicans.

In the letter, Hobbs said her office "consulted with election technology and security experts, including at the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, regarding the appropriate next steps, and each unanimously advised that once election officials lose custody and control over voting systems and components, those devices should not be reused in further elections".

"Rather, decommissioning and replacing those devices is the safest option as no methods exist to adequately ensure those machines are safe to use", she added.

"M$3 y office did not reach this decision lightly", Hobbs wrote.

Maricopa County Elections Department also has said: "The County provided the Senate 8 terabytes of data, including Results Tally & Reporting logs from the 2020 November General Election". "However, given the circumstances and ongoing concerns regarding the handling and security of the equipment, I believe the county can agree that this is the only path forward to ensure secure and accurate elections in Maricopa County in the future".

But not all of the equipment subpoenaed by the Senate has been returned - in a statement, county officials noted there are still 385 voting machines in the custody of the Senate's private contractors.

"The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured that we will not use any equipment - ever - that could pose a risk to free and fair elections", Gilbertson said in an emailed statement.

Gilbertson said the county won't use any of the equipment that was provided to Fann's audit team unless the county, the state and the vendor who provided them, Dominion Voting Systems, are confident that no malicious software or hardware was installed.

Maricopa County officials are asking for the preservation of all materials from the state Senate's audit of the 2020 election in Arizona's largest county ahead of possible legal action.

Neither Fann, nor Cyber Ninjas immediately responded to Insider's request for comment.

"The lack of physical security and transparency means we can not be certain who accessed the voting equipment and what might have been done to them", she wrote, advising that the county "should acquire new machines to ensure secure and accurate elections in Maricopa County going forward". Arizona Democrats have been more forceful, describing it as a "sham audit" meant to justify new restrictions on voting. But one of his biggest challenges may be rooting out extremists in federal law enforcement.

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