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Arizona Senate president still sparring with Maricopa County over vote audit
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Arizona Senate president still sparring with Maricopa County over vote audit

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Senate President Karen Fann

PHOENIX — Senate President Karen Fann said Maricopa County officials may be balking at cooperating with an audit of the 2020 presidential election results because they fear what it might turn up.

“I’m beginning to wonder if they’re not as confident in their (election) system as they say they are,” Fann told Capitol Media Services on Friday.

She was reacting to the latest refusal by county supervisors to let Senate-hired auditors review the tallying equipment and hand count the 2.1 million ballots where they are currently located at county election offices.

A day earlier, the board foreclosed the option of opening up the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center to the outside auditors.

In a letter to the Senate’s lawyer, attorney Steve Tully, who represents the supervisors, said they stand ready to comply with the original subpoena. It required the equipment and ballots to be delivered to the Senate.

“The request to perform any audit, recount or other related activities at MCTEC is beyond the scope of the subpoenas issued,” Tully wrote.

Fann said efforts are underway to find an alternate location.

It’s not a simple matter of space. She said the very nature of having actual ballots and counting equipment requires that it be in a place that is secure 24 hours a day while also having the capability of being monitored by those who want to watch.

Tully said, “The county is willing to discuss delivery of the requested items to the senators’ custody at a non-county owned location of the senators’ choosing.”

Fann said the cost will add to the $150,000 that the Senate has agreed to pay its audit team.

She said senators simply want to put the issues surrounding the vote to bed.

But Jack Sellers, who chairs the board, said it’s not as if the county is blindly accepting the election results. He said the county conducted “two extensive and independent” audits of the election in February.

“They showed no evidence of equipment malfunction or foul play,” Sellers said in a prepared statement. “These findings, in addition to the hand count audit completed by the political parties and accuracy tests before and after the election, affirm no hacking or vote switching occurred in the 2020 election.”

He pointed out the Senate is pursuing its own review even after the one done by “certified experts” hired by the county.

“I hope the auditors hired by the Senate will take great care with your ballots and the election equipment leased with your tax dollars,” Sellers said.

All this comes on the heels of the Senate releasing the contract and other documents Fann has signed with Douglas Logan, chief executive officer of Cyber Ninjas, the lead firm hired to conduct the audit.

Questions were raised about that choice after discovery of Twitter posts by Logan suggesting he already concluded that the election results, at least on the national level, are suspicious.

“The parallels between the statistical analysis of Venezuela and this year’s election are astonishing,” Logan wrote in a December post, a clear reference to unproven and denied allegations that Dominion Voting Systems, the company that produced the equipment used by Maricopa County, is linked to the family of the deceased former dictator.

Logan also has shared other posts, including one that said, “With all due respect, if you can’t see the blatant cheating, malfeasance and outright voter fraud, then you are ignorant or lying.”

“It was not a mistake to hire him. We have four great, reputable companies that are involved with this,” Fann said, referring to other firms that will work under the control of Cyber Ninjas. “This is being done in the utmost transparency with the most qualified people, with checks, double-checks and triple-checks to make sure all this is done correctly.”

“Just because somebody found some Tweet that’s within some archive program that none of us ever would have done it (the search) doesn’t mean anything,” Fann said. “Is no one allowed to say anything?”

Logan’s qualifications and possible bias aside, the scope of work that Logan has agreed to do for the Senate shows the firm is starting from the position that something is wrong. And it raises questions about the tactics.

According to the contract, Cyber Ninjas may contact individual voters in at least three precincts, even going to their homes, “to collect information of whether the individual voted in the election.”

In fact, the contract says part of the audit team the Senate hired already “has worked together with a number of individuals” — who are not identified in the contract — who knocked on doors “to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address.”

Logan did not immediately respond to calls seeking more information. But Fann said the moves make sense.

“There were a lot of people that filled out affidavits saying that ‘I got 25 ballots at my house, and there’s only two of us that live here,’ ” Fann said.

“They’re going to take those affidavits, and they’re going to go to those people, and they’re going to say: ‘You signed an affidavit that said that this happened. Is this true? Give us a little information so we can verify this and track it down,’ ” she said.

But not all those contacts will be based on affidavits. The audit team is going to be contacting voters in person to look for inconsistencies.

For example, Fann said, historical records may show a given precinct has never had more than a 35% turnout.

“And all of a sudden they had a 90% voter turnout,” she said. Fann acknowledged that the 2020 election did produce record turnout for both presidential candidates.

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