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Arizona election review delayed again after 3 team members contract COVID-19

Firm finalizes Arizona election audit report
Firm finalizes Arizona election audit report 07:03

The contractors hired to conduct a review of Maricopa County's 2020 election on Monday turned in part of their draft report to the Arizona Senate, but the full report is not yet ready because three of the team members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Arizona Senate president Karen Fann said in a statement that the team expected to have the full draft report finished on Monday, but has not been able to finish it because of the virus. 

"The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick," Fann said in a statement. "The Senate legal team will meet Wednesday to start reviewing the draft report."

It is not immediately clear when the final report will be made public, but Fann said the Senate team will meet again after the rest of the draft report is submitted. Once that process is complete, the final report will be presented to the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee and the findings will be made public. 

Election 2020 Arizona Audit
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The audit, ordered by the Arizona Senate, has the U.S. Department of Justice saying it is concerned about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results. Matt York / AP

Fann's statement also said Maricopa County did not provide ballot envelope images last Thursday, but the County has disputed that claim and noted that it provided the information in April. In its response to a subpoena request earlier this month, the county also provided information about how the audit team could find those images. 

The controversial process began in April after contractors hired by the Republican-led state Senate took control of Maricopa County's 2.1 million ballots. The Senate hired several firms to conduct the audit. It was led by Cyber Ninjas, whose founder has promoted election conspiracy theories and had no texperience in conducting official election audits. The process has been heavily criticized by election experts, election officials and Republican leaders in Maricopa County

The results of the audit will not change the outcome of the 2020 election. President Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes. Fann has repeatedly said that the goal of the audit is to improve the election process going forward, not to change the results of the 2020 election. 

Observers on behalf of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is also running for governor next year, documented concerns with the audit. Hobbs' office released a report last week that outlined some of those issues, including lack of security, transparency and consistent practices as well as not following chain-of-custody procedures. 

"It is clear that any 'outcomes' or 'conclusions' that are reported from the Senate's review, by the Cyber Ninjas or any of their subcontractors or partners, are unreliable," the report said. 

Stephen Richer, the Republican Maricopa county recorder who won his race in 2020, released a letter last week excorating the process. Richer, who is Maricopa County's top election official and voted for former President Trump in 2020, has frequently criticized the process over the past several months. 

"The Ninja audit is an abomination that has so far eroded election confidence and defamed good people," Richer wrote. "Nobody stole Maricopa County's election. Elections in Maricopa County aren't rigged."

Former Arizona Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett will be part of the team helping the Senate review the report. In July, Bennett said he was planning to step down because of transparency issues with the audit, but Fann convinced him to continue in his role. 

Earlier this month, Maricopa County and Dominion Voting Systems refused to comply with subpoenas that requested more information to help contractors finish their report about the audit. 

The audit team disclosed in July which groups have been funding the process. At that point, the team had received $5.6 million, mostly from groups whose leaders have spread unsubstantiated theories about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. 

Maricopa County conducted multiple audits of the 2020 election before this process began. A hand count audit of a statistically significant sample of ballots after the election found that the results were accurate. 

In January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved two additional audits of election equipment following protests about the election. The board hired two independent firms who are certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. The firms conducted separate audits in February and found no issues. 

Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform have asked Logan for documents related to the audit. On Monday, Democratic Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jamie Raskin sent a letter demanding that Logan produce the documents by August 27. 

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