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As Arizona audit winds down, auditors are still denied access to Maricopa Co. routers

County has claimed that turning over routers would constitute a security risk.

Updated: July 16, 2021 - 10:35pm

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As the contentious audit of Maricopa County, Arizona's 2020 election results draws nearer to a close, audit officials still lack access to computer equipment that auditors believe is critical to ensure a full review of the county's records.

Maricopa County officials in May refused to hand over routers requested by election auditors at the time, claiming that to do so would pose a security risk due to the county's intermingling of various departments on multiple routers. 

The routers "support [more than 50] departments, not just elections operations," including "critical law enforcement data that, by law, cannot be disclosed, as well as Maricopa County residents' protected health information and full social security numbers," a county official claimed in May.

At the time the issue seemed to be heading toward a standoff, with the county citing a security privilege and the auditors pointing to a judge's ruling directing the county to comply with the state Senate's subpoena. 

Yet several months later, as the bulk of the audit work is winding down, the routers remain wholly absent from the evidence file. During a state Senate hearing this week, lead auditor Ben Cotton stated that it was "critically important" for investigators to obtain access to the routers to fully complete the audit. 

Whether or not the routers will eventually land in the hands of auditors is unclear. The February ruling of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled that county officials were not permitted to "avoid a subpoena based on statutes that require that the material being subpoenaed be kept confidential." Maricopa officials cited confidentiality rules in May when refusing to hand over the material.

State Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office told Just the News this week that, under Arizona statute, the enforcement of that subpoena falls to the state Legislature rather than the AG's office. 

County spokesman Fields Moseley, meanwhile, told Just the News that the Maricopa Board of Supervisors' position "has not changed" since its first refusal to hand over the routers in May. 

Asked about rumors that the county commissioned an independent audit of the routers which showed they weren't used in the 2020 election, Moseley said: "That is not correct."  

"The County commissioned two separate audits of the tabulation equipment to address misinformation and other concerns about the Dominion machines," he said.

"There was a discussion between attorney's [sic] at some point," he added, "about providing an image of the routers instead of the physical hardware — which would have crippled the county network — but once they realized the risk of exposing the network traffic, the discussion from our side ended."

During the state Senate hearing this week, Cotton said that auditors examining the routers would "not see 'people-sensitive data' on the information" they were reviewing.

Asked by state Senate President Karen Fann why the county would share router networks with multiple agencies, Cotton said, "I can't answer why they shared that space."

The audit is reportedly expected to continue for roughly another two weeks.