A Democrat who is also Arizona’s top elections official added one more layer to the controversial audit of Maricopa County’s voting machines Thursday by claiming the machines can never be used again.
Arizona’s Republican-majority state Senate ordered the audit, which is being performed by Cyber Ninjas, a firm hired by the Senate.
Maricopa County officials battled against the audit, but in the end were forced to give way after a subpoena ordering the machines to be provided was upheld in court.
Roughly 2 million ballots and 385 tabulators are still being reviewed, according to The Epoch Times.
On Thursday, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wrote to the county to explain having the GOP-appointed firm inspect the machines has ruined them in terms of any further use.
“I have grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given that the chain of custody, a critical security tenet, has been compromised and election officials do not know what was done to the machines while under Cyber Ninjas’ control,” Hobbs said in the letter.
“Indeed, such loss of custody constitutes a cyber incident to critical infrastructure — an event that could jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of digital information or information systems.”
She wrote officials with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency “advised that once election officials lose custody and control over voting systems and components, those devices should not be reused in future elections.”
“Instead, the County should acquire new machines to ensure secure and accurate elections in Maricopa County going forward.”
After praising the security procedures of Maricopa County, Hobbs said “once the subpoenaed machines were turned over to the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, it is unclear what, if any, procedures were in place or followed to ensure physical security and proper chain of custody.”
She said the concerns were based on media reports and the fact “No election official or expert observer designated by my Office was allowed to remain with the equipment for the duration of the Cyber Ninjas’ processing and handling of the equipment, nor did Cyber Ninjas provide a continuous, clearly visible livestream of the area where voting equipment was stored and handled.”
“The lack of physical security and transparency means we cannot be certain who accessed the voting equipment and what might have been done to them,” she wrote.
The Times reported Hobbs’ office may consider decertifying the machines if they are used in future elections.
The auditors said they have followed the proper procdures, according to the outlet.
“We don’t turn on a system if it’s delivered to us in a powered-off state. We remove the hard drives, we perform forensics imaging with write blocks to prevent any changes to those hard drives, and we produce a bit for bit forensics copy of that particular drive,” said Ben Cotton, founder of CyFIR, the company leading the technology component of the audit.
Ken Bennett, a Republican and former Arizona secretary of state who is assisting the Senate, said that since the equipment was put in Senate custody on April 21, everything went into locked, guarded cages.
“We have not had any breaches of the cages where the ballots or the machines have been kept,” he said.
The Senate agreed when the audit began that the county would not be liable for damages to the equipment while the Senate had it, but it is unclear whether that agreement would cover the concerns Hobbs expressed in her letter.
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