Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs condemned the, the state's largest county, by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Although the audit will not change the results of the presidential election, Hobbs said in a Friday interview with CBSN it is a "highly partisan effort" that will undermine faith in elections.
"We already know this election was free from fraud," Hobbs said, pointing out that the state had already conducted multiple audits of ballots and machines, and several lawsuits found no instances of fraud. "This is unprecedented, and it's not sustainable to think this will be the future of how we handle elections."
President Joe Biden won Maricopa County, a longtime Republican stronghold, by 45,109 votes, and he won the state by 10,457 votes. But former President Donald Trump has continued to promote the "big lie" that the election was stolen, a position seemingly supported by the state senators undertaking this unnecessary audit.
By subpoena, the state Senate took possession of 2.1 million ballots and nearly 400 election machines and turned them over to be audited by companies that include one whose CEO promoted debunked election fraud theories after the election. The Justice Department has raised concerns about the audit, sending a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann to warn about "potential non-compliance with federal laws," including, among other issues, whether ballots are being "adequately safeguarded."
Hobbs criticized the procedures undertaken by the audit, saying that there was "certainly not adequate security both in terms of how the ballots are being stored and the chain of custody on the ballots."
"The procedures seem to be very not up to par in terms of how you would conduct any post-election audit," Hobbs said. "The procedures that we're seeing being carried out are undermining any kind of result that you would see."
Election experts have also raised concerns about how the audit could help promote conspiracy theories with unnecessary procedures such as using UV lights, measuring ballot thickness, examining folds and looking at the makeup of the paper. Hobbs argued that the true purpose of the audit was "to tout the big lie and undermine the integrity of our election."
Hobbs, who has been an outspoken critic of the audit, said that there have been threats against her and her family and she is being protected by a security detail.
"This rhetoric is ramping up, and we received different threats," Hobbs said.