Arizona Senate Republicans announced Friday they have hired a firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Maricopa County election results, which included both a review of the ballots and the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in November.
The announcement came on the heels of a unanimous decision last week by the Maricopa Board of Supervisors to conduct a more limited audit focused on the Dominion machines themselves.
“There are two primary reasons we have determined the Senate needed to retain its own independent auditing firm. The Senate has consistently called for an auditor certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). We have now learned the EAC does not certify auditors as such,” state Senate President Karen Fann said in a news release.
“The other primary reason is that the scope of the audit must be broader than the one proposed by the County’s vendors. Our firm will perform everything we have required in the subpoenas,” she added.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Senate chooses its own qualified auditing firm to conduct forensic audit of Maricopa County election results
— AZSenateRepublicans (@AZSenateGOP) January 29, 2021
Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen concurred with Fann that the board of supervisors audit did not go far enough.
“Unfortunately, their limited scope does not fulfill the demand of our subpoena, which called for a deep forensic audit. We need to do more than make basic checks on the machines to make sure they were working. We need to check the ballots and ballot scans for abnormalities,” Petersen said.
“We need to look at the machines to see if there was any manipulation,” he continued. “We need to make sure there was no remote or local access that made changes to the results. I’m grateful the President has chosen a firm that will do that work. Only then will our voters feel confident about the results of the election.”
The proposed parameters of the board of supervisors audit include: analyzing the tabulation equipment’s hacking vulnerability, verifying no malicious software was installed, testing whether the machines were connected to the internet, confirming no vote switching occurred (among other issues) and verifying state and county procurement regulations were followed when leasing the equipment from Dominion Voting Systems.
The Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the board of supervisors in December, calling for the board of supervisors to turn over the metadata of the original ballot images from the Dominion Voting Systems equipment, along with various reports and logs related to the election.
“There is technology that can look at those ballots to see if there are any anomalies, to see if there’s any dual voting and whether or not these were pre-printed,” then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Eddie Farnsworth said in a December interview.
The board of supervisors, however, did not comply with the subpoenas and instead went to court to seek to block them.
In late December, a state superior court judge affirmed the Judiciary Committee’s right to enforce its subpoenas; however, the Senate was not in session at the time.
After the 2021 legislative session began in mid-January, Petersen issued a new subpoena to the board of supervisors threatening legislative contempt charges if they failed to comply.
Farnsworth approved of the Senate’s decision to hire its own auditing firm.
“AZ Senate has hired a competent, experienced, and well-respected firm to perform a comprehensive audit. Maricopa BOS wants audit of machines only. That is inadequate. President Fann & Chairman Petersen are committed to secure elections,” he tweeted on Friday.
Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who has been pushing for an audit of Maricopa County, celebrated the Senate’s move.
“The Arizona state Senate is delivering on getting us a full forensic audit,” Ward said in video posted Friday.
“The board of supervisors of Maricopa County has fallen down on the job,” she added. “They are hiring people who can’t even do audits though they are somehow ‘certified’ by the Election Assistance Commission. That was not good enough for the state senate and it wasn’t good enough for us.”
In today’s update, Chairwoman Kelli Ward provides an update on the status of the full forensic audit of the 2020 election and thanks Arizona’s Senate Republicans who are poised to deliver for Arizona’s voters. Be sure to thank your state senators! @AZSenateGOP @kelliwardaz pic.twitter.com/TUMgmUORFo
— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) January 29, 2021
Ward said the audit firm hired “can deliver what we need, including scans of the paper ballots, and analysis of those, looking at the logs, looking at the digitally adjudicated ballots…[and] looking at the duplicated ballots.”
Maricopa County is the Grand Canyon State’s most populous, encompassing the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Democratic President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Arizona by 2.2 percentage points or about 45,100 votes of the over 2 million cast in the county.
In his win, the former vice president garnered about 337,900 more votes than Democrat Hillary Clinton did in 2016, when Trump won the county by 45,500 votes or 2.9 percentage points.
In other words, there was a 5.1 percentage point swing in favor of Biden.
Though Biden carried the county, Republicans won every countywide office, save sheriff, which the incumbent Democrat held.
All four Arizona Republican members of Congress whose districts are either entirely or partially in Maricopa County won re-election. All are strong Trump backers, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Andy Biggs, Rep. Debbie Lesko and Rep. Paul Gosar.
The Arizona Secretary of State’s official tally has Biden defeating Trump statewide by 10,457 votes.
The Western Journal reached out to the Maricopa County Elections Department for a response to the Arizona Senate’s planned audit and will update this story, if and when one is received.