An audit of the Maricopa County voting equipment came up absolutely clean according to county officials.
But it’s not going to deter the demands by Republican senators to conduct their own review and get a court order to enforce their own subpoena. In fact, the lawmakers are going back to court Feb. 25 in their bid to get access to the equipment, the software — and the actual ballots.
The county report, released Tuesday, concluded that there was no evidence that:
– Votes were switched from one candidate to another;
– Equipment was using modified software;
– Voting machines were connected to the internet;
– Malicious software or hardware had been installed on tabulators or the system.
“These audits are an affirmation for everyone’s hard work and prove what my colleagues and I have been saying all along: Our elections were run with integrity and the results we canvassed were accurate,” said Supervisor Clint Hickman, one of four Republicans on the board.
Steve Gallardo, the lone Democrat supervisor, agreed.
“The audits clearly dispel the notion that somehow the November election was rigged,” he said.
The results of the audits — three of the four areas were reviewed separately by two different companies — come just days before the supervisors face off in court again with the Senate.
Attorneys for lawmakers contend they are entitled to have their own auditors have access not only to the equipment but also the 2.1 million ballots actually cast.
So far, though, their efforts have failed. And on Feb. 25, attorneys for the county will ask Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomasson to quash the legislative subpoenas and permanently bar Senate President Karen Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, from taking any further action to enforce their subpoena.
All this is part of the leftovers from allegations that the returns reported from the Nov. 3 election were inaccurate and that Donald Trump actually won Arizona and should have received the state’s 11 electoral votes.
A series of lawsuit complaining of everything from improper procedures and the use of wrong marking pens to outright fraud all have so far been rejected by courts. And at this point the issue is legally moot as Joe Biden has been sworn in as president.
But Fann told Capitol Media Services more needs to be done.
“When there are this many questions that people are questioning our electoral system, I think we owe it to them to say ‘We’re going to get those answers for you, and we’re going to show that our system is good and secure,’ ” she said. “And if we find any irregularities, we are going to prove to you that we’re going to fix those irregularities.”
More to the point, Fann said, what the county performed doesn’t get to those questions.
Some of it, she said, is because the companies they hired are not certified forensic auditors.
Beyond that, Fann said there are other questions that the audit never addressed.
“I do know that they did not do an in-depth forensic audit enough to help us figure out how many mail-out ballots went out to people that do not live in Arizona any more,” she said. Then there are allegations about ballots that went to dead people or a large number of ballots showing up at a house where only two people live.
All that, Fann said, leads to questions about what happened to all those ballots.
But a key point in what Fann and her colleagues want is access to the actual ballots to determine if the count reported actually matches the votes counted.
The audit done for the county does look at some of that — but only indirectly.
Auditors from Pro V & V looked at the question of whether the Dominion Voting Systems equipment or software was switching votes from one candidate to another, one of the charges leveled by Trump supporters, using what a “test deck” of ballots pre-marked with known results. All totaled, they said the tally of more than 1.5 million specific ballot positions came out 100% accurate.
Only thing is, these were not the actual ballots voted in November, in keeping with the county’s position that they have to be locked up.
The audit produced other results.
Pro V & V and SLI Compliance, the other firm hired by the county, also said they looked for evidence that the tabulation system was transmitting information outside what they said was an “air-gapped system” within the county. They said they found no issues.
Both also conducted what they called a “full forensic clone” of the hard drive on the equipment which allowed them to examine not just what was there but also look for evidence of deleted files or hidden data. Here, too, they said they found no issues.
All that, however, is not good enough as far as the Senate is concerned. And Fann said the only way the questions of constituents will be answered is if there is an actual examination of the equipment and the ballots by someone chosen by the Senate.
Whether lawmakers are entitled to that is exactly what Thomasson is being asked to decide.
The county’s refusal to turn over access is based on several arguments.
“The (Arizona) Constitution commands that ballots be kept secret,” attorney Steve Tully who represents the county told Thomasson in his legal filings. And he said Arizona law spells out that after the formal canvass of votes, the ballots are put into an envelope and kept unopened for up to 24 months, after which they must be destroyed.
None of this has stopped the Senate from issuing a subpoena for access to them.
But Tully said subpoenas are permissible only when there has been a vote of the full Senate to investigate the 2020 general election. That, he said, did not occur.
Instead, he said, the subpoenas all result from “months of conspiracy theories rejected by the courts and debunked by the press.”
There are provisions for a judge to decide whether to enforce a subpoena. But he said that first requires a vote of the Senate to hold the supervisors in contempt.
But that failed when Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, refused to go along with his GOP colleagues.