AZ GOP Chair Ward Explains Vital Reason Audit Must Have Access to Maricopa County Election Routers


Arizona Republican Party chairwoman Kelli Ward highlighted on Wednesday the importance of the auditors of the Maricopa County 2020 general election gaining access to the routers used.

The routers were part of the original subpoena first issued by the Arizona Senate in December and reissued in January.

On Monday, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and Arizona Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen issued a new subpoena to Maricopa County, once again calling for access to the routers used in connection with the election.

“In order to complete the full — full — forensic audit, there are still a lot of additional materials that the auditors need that Maricopa County has refused to deliver, ignoring a lawful legislative subpoena that has been upheld by at least two Arizona courts,” Ward said.

Ward is not part of the audit team, but has been monitoring its work closely.

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In an update posted on Wednesday, the chairwoman referenced the first item in the new subpoena, which states, “All reports, findings and other documents concerning any breach of the voter registration server, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office systems, or any other aspect of the Maricopa County elections systems at any time within six months of the November 3, 2020 general election.”

In December, The Arizona Republic reported FBI agents conducted a search of a home in the Phoenix metropolitan area two days after the election, seeking records related to a computer intrusion of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website.

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“The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has reported this to proper authorities and law enforcement personnel, and there is an ongoing investigation by the FBI at this time. The county is cooperating with the investigation,” Megan Gilbertson, the spokesperson for the office, said at the time.

Ward noted that “very few details have been shared with the public about that event.”

Auditor Ben Cotton, the founder of CyFIR LLC, testified at a July 15 state Senate hearing overseen by Fann and Peterson this breach is one reason he needs access to the routers and the splunk logs, which show the activity over the network.

“We know through public records, public statements that an element of the election system was actually compromised or breached during the course of the November 2020 election,” Cotton said. “The registration server … was breached.”

The cyber expert further testified that while the county stated the hacker only gained access to publicly available voter registration data, he may have also easily gained access further into the voting system itself.

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Cotton emphasized to the senators that access to the routers is the most vital thing he needs to complete the audit.

Regarding the routers, Ward said, “Maricopa County agreed to send those routers over — said they were packing them up, they were putting them on pallets — one day. The next day, they simply refused to send them. It’s suspicious if you ask me.”

At a May 18 hearing with Fann and Petersen, Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett testified that Maricopa County Deputy Attorney Joseph La Rue had told him the routers were loaded up and ready to be delivered along with the voting machines in April.

“About a week before the machines were to be delivered, I called Mr. La Rue and offered that we could have the contractor that would be looking at the routers actually come to [the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center] and look at the routers while they were still installed and in place in MCTEC so that nothing had to be removed,” Bennett said.

“He had called me back the next day to say they had removed all of the equipment and that they had replaced it at great expense to the county and that all of that would be on a pallet delivered with the rest of the equipment on what turned out to be April 21.”

When the routers were not delivered along with the rest of the voting machines, Bennett said he reached out and was told the county had changed its mind and instead of the physical routers, virtual access to them would be granted.

Then two weeks later, Bennett reportedly followed up with La Rue who informed him that the county would not be providing access at all out of concern for compromising information related to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office or other personal data of Maricopa County residents.

Cotton told the senators in May, “That data should not exist on that router, period. So to state that it could be compromised would be an inaccurate statement or an inaccurate portrayal of what the data is on the router.”

He addressed the issue again at the July 15 hearing, explaining that routers are like mail carriers delivering packets of information to addresses, but do not access what is inside.

“What you don’t have is the actual content or the letter that’s contained in the envelope within the router itself,” he said.

Maricopa County communications director Fields Moseley disputed Bennett’s account and the need to have access to the routers.

“Mr. Bennet was incorrect when he recalled that conversation with Mr. La Rue,” Moseley wrote in an email to The Patriot Project.

“Maricopa County never disconnected physical routers which would have crippled County operations. Replacing those routers so [the lead firm overseeing the audit, Cyber Ninjas] can chase conspiracy theories would have cost the County taxpayers millions of dollars. There was a discussion about providing digital images of the routers to comply with the subpoena. That was later determined not to be a viable option for all the aforementioned security risks.”

“The County has provided all the items necessary to audit the 2020 General Election,” Moseley added. “If they are trying to prove or disprove that tabulation equipment was connected to the internet, they could review the certified auditors report that show Maricopa County’s tabulation equipment was never connected to the internet.”

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