Senate President Karen Fann is seeking an independent analysis of the testing of Arizona voting machines.
In a letter to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Prescott Republican said she is not claiming there was fraud in the just-completed election.
“But many others are making that claim,” Fann said. And she contends that the outside review will put the “current controversy” to rest.
But Hobbs said that Fann, while professing no belief in fraud, is herself trafficking in conspiracy theories by even suggesting that an extra — and legally unrequired — step is necessary to quell rumors.
“It is patently unreasonable to suggest that, despite there being zero credible evidence of any impropriety or widespread irregularities, election officials nonetheless have a responsibility to prove a negative,” she wrote Tuesday in a response to Fann.
“To be clear, there is no ‘current controversy’ regarding elections in Arizona, outside of theories floated by those seeking to undermine our democratic process for political gain,” Hobbs said. “Elected officials should work to build, rather than damage, public confidence in our system.”
And the secretary left no doubt about what she intends to do.
“I respectfully decline your request to push aside the work that remains to be done to ensure an orderly completion of this election and instead launch and fund with taxpayer dollars a boundless `independent’ evaluation of ‘all data related to the tabulation of votes in the 2020 General Election’,” Hobbs wrote.
Fann, for her part, told Capitol Media Services there’s nothing improper about her request, even absent any proof of fraud.
“There are a lot of questions that the voters have” she said. “And for the integrity of our democracy, why wouldn’t we want to get to the bottom of these questions?”
And if there’s nothing there, Fann said, “let’s find out what they are and either put them to bed or get those questions answered.”
Hobbs said, though, that everything being done follows the election laws as established by the Republican-controlled legislature.
She pointed out the equipment used to tabulate votes can be used only if first certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and her own office, after review by a special State’s Equipment Certification Advisory Committee.
Then there are “logic and accuracy” tests on each piece of equipment — tests that need to be done in public — both before and after the election to ensure that the machines are properly recording the votes.
And there even is a law that requires that 2% of the ballots from select precincts be counted by hand to ensure the tally matches what the machine has spit out. And that is open to party officials who even can videotape the process.
All that, Hobbs said, was made public for months before the election.
“It’s not like we’re trying to hide anything,” Hobbs told Capitol Media Services. “If the public right now is deciding, ‘Oh, we need to do something else,’ it’s because they weren’t paying attention — or they chose not to.”
Fann, however, said it’s not that simple.
“Isn’t it our duty and our responsibility to answer to our constituents and give them that comfort level of we are going to look into whatever their concerns are,” she said. “And if they are false or there is misinformation, then we should correct that for them.”
Still, Fann acknowledged that it is the legislature that crafted the election laws, including the security features. And it was never thought necessary to require the kind of outside audit that she now wants.
It was only this year, when the president and some of his supporters began making claims of massive fraud as he appeared to be outpolled in Arizona and elsewhere that now she wants this extra step — and immediately.
“I think part of the difference is the social media now and the ability for people, whether it’s misinformation or accurate information — and there is a lot of information out there floating around — that maybe 10 years ago wasn’t because we didn’t have the social media platforms that we have now,” Fann said.
And just because folks are getting information from the internet, she said, doesn’t mean their questions are irrelevant or should be ignored.
“I don’t think that they’re just a bunch of crazies,” Fann said. “I think there are a lot of people out there that believe that they want their questions answered.”
The Senate president said she would be asking the same questions if the tally was showing that Trump had won Arizona and she had been approached by Biden supporters who said they had observed irregularities at the polls.
Hobbs said she’s all in favor of putting the doubts about the election to bed. But this, she said, is not the way to do it.
“I think the more that elected officials give credence to these baseless conspiracy theories, they’re doing exactly that, they’re giving credence to them,” she said. And Hobbs said she finds it particularly interesting that questions of election fairness and security would be raised by legislators who crafted the laws in the first place.
“They should be standing up for the process that they’ve legislated,” she said.