Officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, said Monday that the state’s most populous county will replace the voting equipment that was turned over to private contractors for an audit of the 2020 election.
This news was shared by local Arizona journalist Jen Fifield on Monday. “The County will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections.”
The Republican-led state Senate took control of the county’s 2.1 million ballots and voting equipment by subpoena earlier this year. In May, Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs urged the county “not to redeploy any of the subpoenaed machines that it turned over to the Senate in any future elections” because it’s not clear what procedures were in place “to ensure physical security and proper chain of custody.”
Maricopa County attorneys said Monday that the Republican-dominated county Board of Supervisors shares Hobbs’ concerns. It is not clear at this point how much it may cost to replace the machines or who will pay for the replacements.
“The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured, the County will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections,” Maricopa County said in a statement. “As a result, the County will not use the subpoenaed equipment in any future elections.”
Senate Republicans hired several firms to conduct the audit. It was led by Cyber Ninjas, whose founder has promoted election conspiracy theories. Independent election experts have raised concerns about the procedures that were in place during the audit.
Early in the process workers were using UV lights to check for watermarks on the ballots. Some QAnon conspiracy theorists had claimed that the Trump administration had watermarked the ballots to prevent fraud. The county said the ballots were not watermarked. That procedure stopped a few weeks into the audit. Workers were also looking for folds on mail ballots, even though not all mail-in ballots end up with folds, according to Tammy Patrick, a former elections official in Maricopa County.
Unlike machines, paper cannot be compromised without one’s knowledge.
We know the machines were compromised long before the Senate took hold of them. If fraud occurred in November, voting machines do need to be replaced.