County’s board disputes allegations that it deleted data from an election machine
Officials in Arizona’s largest county on Monday urged the state Senate to bring to an end an audit that is reviewing ballots cast and machines used in the 2020 presidential election.
“It is time to end this. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the Country and for the good of the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans,” the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and two other county officials wrote to Arizona GOP Senate President Karen Fann.
In the 14-page document, the board, which is mainly comprised of Republicans, attempted to counter accusations by auditors that the county handed over nearly 2.1 million ballots without chain-of-custody documentation and with discrepancies in some ballot batches.
Additionally, auditors said they found an entire database directory from an election machine had been deleted.
The board said the accusations were “false, defamatory, and beneath the dignity of the Senate.” Members said they had provided proper chain-of-custody documentation to the state Senate’s liaison, former Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett. They also said that each box was sealed with tamper evident tape or “standard clear sturdy packing tape” and that the supposed batch discrepancies stemmed from a misunderstanding of how election tabulation works.
Board members challenged the claim of database deletion, charging that no data was deleted on April 12.
In the letter, they reiterated that they could not produce passwords to access administrative functions of Dominion Voting Systems machines because Dominion does not give them such passwords. Dominion said last week it would not give auditors the passwords. Dominion did give the passwords to two firms that conducted an audit for the county earlier this year because both are accredited by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, the county said.
County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, told members in a meeting on Monday that he witnessed the transference of all election databases to the Senate and that the Dominion passwords are not needed to run any operations, including elections.
“This is like how you can run Microsoft Windows on your computer without having access to Microsoft Windows source code,” he said.
The board also continued refusing to provide routers or router images to auditors.
Fann, the state Senate’s president, did not return an inquiry.
Sen. Warren Petersen, a Republican, wrote in a tweet: “Via the media, the President received a letter from the County. Outside of the unnecessary insults I’m glad to see a response. Unfortunately it does not agree to comply with the subpoena or fully answer all of her questions.”
Fann shared the post on her Twitter account.
The county’s position does not affect the audit, which is currently on hold as high school graduations take place in the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Auditors will re-enter the facility next week.
Maricopa County has long resisted having its election materials audited, taking the matter to court after subpoenas were issued last year. But a county judge ruled in February that the subpoenas were valid and should be obeyed.
Routers were listed in the subpoenas, as was access to election machines.
Fann threatened to subpoena Maricopa County officials over their refusal to fully comply with the subpoenas but backed off that threat last week, instead laying out her concerns in a letter and asking officials to attend a May 18 meeting to answer questions.
County officials said in their new letter that they will not attend the meeting.
Supervisor Bill Gates of the GOP said on Monday that that the board respected the decision by the judge but added that it would not participate in “a political theater” by joining the meeting.
“The Arizona Senate is better than that. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is better than that,” he said.
Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, indicated that the county would no longer cooperate with the state Senate or its auditors.
“This board is done explaining anything to these people who are playing investigator with our constituents’ ballots and equipment paid for with real people’s tax dollars,” he said.
“I would hope that Senate President Fann steps up, show some political courage, pushes back, gets rid of these contractors that have no business at the Coliseum,” Supervisor Steve Gallardo, a Democrat, added.
The defiance from the board rankled some Republicans.
Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona GOP, said in a video that the board members “view themselves as above the law, above review, above reproach.”
“Who gives these local officials the right to challenge the constitutional authority of the Arizona Senate and of the Arizona courts?” she wondered.