Arizona releases audit results, as state Senate President says statutes ' were broken'

Roughly half of the flagged votes fell into the category of "Mail-in Votes without Ballots Received.”

Published: September 24, 2021 4:09pm

Updated: September 24, 2021 6:27pm

The Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate on Friday released the findings of its months-long, much anticipated audit of the 2020 election results in all-important Maricopa County — with state Senate President Karen Fann expressly challenging selective leaks and premature analysis that ignores findings of "statutes that were broken" in the conduct of the election.

Fann championed the audit effort while also placing blame for the delays and incompleteness of the review at the feet of county officials who she said failed to "cooperate."

"I'm very disappointed to see that Maricopa County refused to cooperate with us," Fann said in the state's legislative chambers before audit experts dove into the finding. "Not only did they not cooperate with us, they even went so far as to sue us.

"What you have not seen and not heard is about the statutes that were broken, how chain of custody was not followed, how we had a number of issues, which is why people questioned the ballots and the election. So I ask that you please keep an open mind, I ask that you please listen to this, because the reality of this is that this is all about making sure your vote counts." 

Some of the anticipation about the findings had waned by the time they were revealed — after a draft report of the audit was published in the early morning hours. 

The draft report concluded Democrat Joe Biden received more votes for president than incumbent Republican Trump but flagged as many as 44,000 votes as "critical."

Roughly half of the flagged votes fell into the category of "Mail-in Votes without Ballots Received.”

Randy Pullen, a spokesman for the election review, soon after the draft release confirmed its validity, telling news outlets, "It’s not the final report, but it's close."

Fann at the official release also said Maricopa, the state's largest county, tried to sue the GOP-led Senate, which ordered the audit, because the county "said we had no right in auditing. Well, they're wrong. We have that right." 

She also confirmed the report will be sent to the state attorney general to investigate "anomalies" found in the audit.

Joining Fann at the introduction was Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen, who hailed the audit report, led by contractors Cyber Ninjas, as unprecedented, rigorous and detail-oriented but also incomplete due to what he and Fann called the county's failure to "cooperate." 

"This is the first time in the history of country that an audit of this scale and magnitude has ever been conducted," he said. "It's unfortunate that it is an incomplete audit due to the lack of cooperation and obstruction from the county. However, in spite of that, this is still the most complete audit that has ever been done." 

Petersen and Fann indicated that the door was being left open to take further investigatory action, before handing off to Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, who spoke about the pattern recognition methodology used to determine the legitimacy of ballot signatures during the audit,

During his presentation, Ayyadurai said that 17,126 voters sent in duplicate ballots, 25% of which came in in the days following the Nov. 3 election.

Some of the initial findings of the report include the claim that over 3,400 more ballots were cast in the election than were recorded, 9,000 more mail-in ballots were received and recorded than the official number of ballots sent by Maricopa officials.

Hand count auditors identified multiple ballots that had been printed and duplicated more than once, which "would result in two votes being counted for" a single voter.

Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, and his tech subcontractor Ben Cotton, as well as several Senate-appointed audit liaisons are also expected to discuss their findings. 

Biden won the state and its 11 electoral votes by just over 10,400 votes after securing Maricopa County, which Biden won by more than 45,000 votes.

The audit is not complete. The state Senate and Maricopa officials recently reached a settlement to allow former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg and a team of tech experts access to long-withheld internet routers and logs showing online activity related to election balloting.

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