Commentary

Maricopa County Board Refuses to Discuss Election Concerns, Calls for Audit to End

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced on Monday that it would not attend a meeting requested by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann to answer questions raised to date by an audit of the 2020 presidential election.

In fact, the board took it a step further and called for the audit to end. Chairman Jack Sellers declared he would not be answering any more questions regarding November’s election, which the board helped oversee.

If the board wanted to take the election integrity concerns that many voters have to the next level, there would be no better way to do it.

Sellers launched into invectives right from the outset of Monday’s meeting.

“We are here under some bizarre circumstances to discuss responding to an unfortunate letter from the president of the Arizona state Senate,” he said.

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Sellers then said he would not be responding to the particulars contained in Fann’s letter.

“This board is done explaining anything to these people who are playing investigator with our constituents’ ballots and equipment, paid for with real people’s tax dollars,” Sellers said. “It’s time to be done with this craziness and get on with our county’s critical business.”

“I want to keep this part of the circus as short as possible. We will be reviewing the response to the state Senate president’s attempt at legitimizing a grift disguised as an audit.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Sellers stated, “As chairman of this board, I just want to make it clear, I will not be responding to any more requests from this sham process. Finish what you’re calling an audit and be ready to defend a report in a court of law. We all look forward to it.”

Seeing the Senate in court would be nothing new for the Board of Supervisors.

The board has in fact taken the Senate to court multiple times since the Senate Judiciary Committee first issued subpoenas requesting election-related materials in December.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled in late February that the Senate has the authority to review the materials requested.

“There is no question that the Senators have the power to issue legislative subpoenas,” Thomason wrote in his opinion. “The Senate also has broad constitutional power to oversee elections.”

But the board has been unwilling to recognize that authority.

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Fann’s letter to the board last Wednesday highlighted “serious issues” the audit, which began April 23, has uncovered thus far.

They included “a significant number of instances in which there is a disparity between the actual number of ballots contained in a batch and the total denoted on the pink report slip accompanying the batch.”

Further, Fann wrote, Maricopa County “has not provided any chain-of-custody documentation for the ballots.”

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She also had questions about how the ballot boxes were sealed and why an entire election database appeared to be missing.

The letter was written in a very respectful tone and requested a Tuesday meeting to discuss the concerns raised.

Sellers and other board members made clear they would not be attending the meeting and issued a letter offering an explanation for the ballot discrepancies.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the head of the companies contracted to conduct the audit and Senate audit liaison and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett gave an update on the progress of the audit, which they expect to be concluded by the end of June.

In its letter, the board refused to turn over county routers that auditors have requested to ensure voting tabulators were not connected to the internet during the election.

The officials cited security concerns about such information getting into the wrong hands.

The board members concluded their letter — also signed by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzon — calling for the audit to cease.

“You, Senate President Fann, are the only one with the power to immediately end it. We implore you to recognize the obvious truth: your ‘auditors’ are in way over their heads,” they wrote.

“It is time to end this. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the Country and for the good of the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans.”

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward called the board’s actions a “political circus unparalleled in the history of Arizona.”

“Why do these local officials believe that they alone are acting in good faith while at the same time questioning the motives and character of those who disagree with them?” Ward asked.

If the board had simply shown up to the Senate meeting and answered all the questions Fann and her colleagues had, it could have done much to advance the cause of election integrity.

Instead, they chose to throw a fit, only highlighting why the audit must be seen through to the end.

This article appeared originally on Patriot Project.

UPDATE, May 19, 2021: On Tuesday, May 18, a cyber expert working on the Arizona election audit team testified that he was able to recover an allegedly deleted directory from the Maricopa County election server.

Ben Cotton — the founder of CyFir, a digital forensics and cyber risk solutions company — told Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen that he discovered the missing file directory while reviewing the Master File Table.

The MFT, he explained during a special meeting of the state Senate, is a “record of all of the directories and the files that are contained in that partition and a pointing — and a pointer to where that data resides on the hard drive.”

The database directory from the D drive of the machine “EMSPrimary” [Election Management System] had been deleted, he confirmed.

“In the course of performing that MFT discovery, I discovered a MFT that clearly indicated that the database directory was deleted from that server,” Cotton said.

He then told Fann and Petersen he was able to successfully recover the files.

“All of this, however, may be a moot point because subsequently, I’ve been able to recover all of those deleted files. And I have access to that data,” Cotton said.

But on Tuesday, following Cotton’s remarks, the Maricopa County Twitter account appeared to fire back.

“Just want to underscore that AZ Senate’s @ArizonaAudit account accused Maricopa County of deleting files — which would be a crime — then a day after our technical letter explained they were just looking in the wrong place — all of a sudden ‘auditors’ have recovered the files,” the account tweeted.

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