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GOP-dominated Arizona board of supervisors call for end to election audit

Inside the Arizona GOP's election audit
Inside the Arizona GOP's election audit 02:14

The Republican-dominated  Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Monday called for an end to the audit of the election results. The Republican-led Arizona state Senate has ordered a full hand recount and audit of the ballots and voting machines in Maricopa County, the state's most populous county, despite that it will not change the outcome of the presidential election.

They also unanimously agreed to send a forceful response to claims made last week by Arizona's Republican Senate President Karen Fann, who wrote to the board of supervisors last week alleging the county was not complying with legislative subpoenas, didn't properly secure the chain of custody of ballots and deleted data.

"It's 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 supervisors and other elected officials said in a letter to Fann.

Fann's letter drew the attention of former President Trump, who blasted it out through his Save America PAC and called Fann's claims "devastating."

On Tuesday, Fann held a public meeting with some of the audit's leaders to respond to the board's report. They accepted some of the responses, including how ballots were secured in containers, but continued to raise questions about issues such as chain of custody, ballot tracking and access to certain materials.

Despite prior multiple state audits that found no issues of concern in the 2020 election, the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate ordered another review, taking possession of Maricopa County's nearly 2.1 million ballots and almost 400 election machines by subpoena earlier this year. The audit is being run by companies that include one whose CEO promoted debunked election fraud theories. 

President Biden is the first Democrat to win Arizona since 1996, defeating former President Trump by 10,457 votes. The audit's results will not overturn Mr. Biden's victory. 

Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who was elected in 2020 and now leads the elections department, responded to Fann's claims at a Board of Supervisors' special meeting on Monday. He said there are some "good people" involved in the audit, but placed much of the blame on Cyber Ninjas, the firm coordinating the review of ballots. 

"They are led by the Cyber Ninjas, a company nobody has ever heard of with a CEO who has indulged even the craziest election conspiracy theories," Richer said. "Cyber Ninjas has zero election experience prior to this year, and they are joined by other companies with zero election experience prior to this year."

Richer shot down Fann's claim that Maricopa County has "refused to provide passwords." He said that the county has provided all passwords in its possession. Richer also reiterated that the county would not be giving over additional routers because it would cost $6 million and pose a security risk for law enforcement officers. 

"All of this risk seems grossly disproportionate to a benefit that has yet to be defined by the Cyber Ninjas," Richer said. "The county will not give over the routers."

Richer asserted that Maricopa County did establish a chain of custody for ballots. He referenced a letter signed by Ken Bennett, the Senate's audit liaison, approved the chain of custody and said the ballots were safely transferred. During Tuesday's meeting, Bennett said that he wasn't sure where the ballots were stored between November and April. Maricopa County tweeted that ballots were locked in a vault. Fann's letter said that bags of ballots were not sealed, but Richer noted the boxes that held those bags were sealed. 

Richer also passionately denied an allegation that the county deleted some election data. That claim was amplified by the Audit's Twitter account and repeated by Mr. Trump.  

"Every file the Senate has asked for is there," Richer said. "No files from the 2020 election have been deleted. We deleted zero - zero election files."

On Tuesday, Ben Cotton, who founded a firm working on the audit with Cyber Ninjas, told Fann and another senator that the data was recovered. 

Fann's letter last week claimed that there were a "significant number of instances" where the the number of ballots in batch differed from the number detailed on a slip accompanying the ballots. The response from Maricopa County on Monday said "it is obvious that your contractors have no understanding" of how this process works. It said some of the "discrepancies" identified by Fann were not discrepancies, "but rather accurately reflected" the process for duplicating damaged ballots. 

Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, suggested during Tuesday's meeting that this explanation wasn't accurate. Maricopa County pointed to documentation released on Monday that shows the information about duplicated ballots was accurately tallied. 

Jack Sellers, the Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, questioned why Cyber Ninjas "can't even find files that were already given to them by Maricopa county."

"We wouldn't be asked to do this on-the-job training if qualified auditors had been hired to do this work," Sellers said. At the end of Monday's meeting he asserted that he "will not be responding to any more requests from this sham process."

"Finish what you're calling an audit and be ready to defend your report in a court of law," he said.

At the end of the meeting, Fann said she was "disappointed" and "saddened" by some of the hurtful comments that were made at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday. 

"These guys have been my friends for, some of them, 20 years," Fann said. "This is not personal. This is about our jobs as elected officials. It is our job that we have to answer to our constituents, to the voters, to the taxpayers."

Fann also said she's received calls from lawmakers in other states about the audit. 

"They have said this is what's going to lay the groundwork as to what is the future of how do we audit our elections if need be? What do we do to make sure that we're following every best practice possible so that if we do need to answer questions we can do that easily," Fann said. 

Logan previously said in a statement, "Cyber Ninjas is the coordinating firm of four companies conducting components of the audit" and added, "each member of our team has been part of election audits, including Cyber Ninjas, which was part of election audits in Michigan and in Georgia." Officials in those states told CBS News that Cyber Ninjas wasn't involved in any of the audits carried out by election officials.  

The audit was paused on Friday because the venue hosting the audit has high school graduations scheduled this week. About 25% of the ballots have been reviewed so far. 

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