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Missing data, subpoena noncompliance bring Arizona election audit to a boil

GOP leader hints at possible future subpoenas if county board does not comply.

Updated: May 14, 2021 - 12:43pm

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The head of the Arizona Senate confirmed this week that an audit of the Maricopa County election in November has identified significant irregularities as well as missing data, with the county itself also being warned of its ongoing noncompliance with the Senate's audit subpoenas.

The dispute is likely to boil over in public next week when county election officials have been asked to testify before a Senate hearing to address the legislature's concerns. 

State Senate President Karen Fann said in a Wednesday letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors that the Senate was seeking resolution to three "serious issues that have arisen in the course of the Senate’s ongoing audit of the returns of the November 3, 2020 general election in Maricopa County."

Among those are the county's continued non-compliance with the subpoena issued by the state Senate in pursuit of the audit. Maricopa County has refused to hand over numerous routers covered by that subpoena, citing security concerns for both local and federal law enforcement. 

The county has claimed that the routers are used for multiple public departments outside of election management, and that allowing auditors access to the hardware could endanger the security of various classified materials. 

Fann in the letter proposed that contractors hired by the Senate's audit team "review virtual images of the relevant routers in Maricopa County facilities and in the presence of representatives of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office."

Fann also called attention to what she said were "apparent omissions, inconsistencies, and anomalies relating to Maricopa County's handling, organization, and storage of ballots" revealed by the audit thus far, including a lack of chain-of-custody documentation as well as "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."

The senator also warned of what appears to be the deletion of an entire database from a county election machine. Data from the machine "suggests that the main database for all election related data for the November 2020 General Election has been removed" from it. 

Fann in the letter invted Maricopa County officials to a state Senate hearing on Tuesday, May 18 to resolve the issues. 

"I am hopeful that we can constructively resolve these issues and questions without recourse to additional subpoenas or other compulsory process," she wrote.

The event will be "live-streamed to the public," she added.

On Thursday, meanwhile, former President Donald Trump called the letter "devastating."

"The Fake News and Lamestream Media is doing everything they can not to cover this major story," Trump wrote on his website. "They just refuse to talk or report about it."

The Arizona audit has faced numerous hurdles since the 2020 election, with Democrats and county officials struggling to block Republican attempts to investigate the election results, including a massive hand recount of 2.1 million ballots. A judge in February ruled that the subpoenas issued by the state Senate were valid, clearing the way for the Senate to acquire voluminous documentation from the county minus the routers the county is currently withholding.

The Arizona Secretary of State's office, meanwhile, has criticized the Senate's handling of the audit, claiming that the digital securities firm Cyber Ninjas hired by the Senate may not be following proper security protocols in conducting the audit.

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