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Following Audit Report Release, AZ AG Directs Maricopa County to Preserve All 2020 Election Materials

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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office sent a letter to Maricopa County officials Monday directing them to preserve all relevant information related to the 2020 general election.

The letter, signed by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wright, came following the release last week of draft reports of the Maricopa County election audit commissioned by the Arizona state Senate.

“The Arizona Senate’s report that was released on Friday raises some serious questions regarding the 2020 election,” Brnovich said in a news release following the letter’s delivery. “Arizonans can be assured our office will conduct a thorough review of the information we receive.”

Among other materials, the AG’s Elections Integrity Unit wants the county to preserve the following materials related to the 2020 election: hard copies and electronically stored documents, electronic communications, election equipment used for the statewide 2020 election and tracking logs.

Additionally, the AG’s office directed the preservation of any physical records including all ballots, returned early ballot envelopes and chain of custody documentation of all election materials, footage captured by video surveillance used by Maricopa County and building access records for all Maricopa County offices used for the 2020 statewide election.

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“Maricopa County should take every reasonable step to preserve this information until further notice,” Wright wrote.

In a separate letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, the attorney general requested unredacted copies of all reports created by the auditors and evidence of Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s report about finding and recognizing patterns of the early ballot envelopes.

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Further, the AG wants evidence supporting cybersecurity expert Ben Cotton’s findings detailed in his Friday presentation to senators, and an opportunity to meet individually with contractors/subcontractors who prepared reports or presented findings to the state Senate.

Ayyadurai, an expert hired by the Arizona Senate to audit the mail-in ballot envelope images from November’s general election, told Senate leadership on Friday that his team’s review found thousands of duplicate ballots, as well as over 1,700 with no signatures.

Ayyadurai, who holds a Ph.D. in systems engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that there were 34,448 duplicate ballot envelopes from 17,126 unique voters.

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Additionally, he reported there were 1,771 envelopes with no signatures and 2,580 with scribbles for the signature.

Cotton, the founder of CyFIR, testified Friday that Maricopa County failed to maintain a key electronic log generated by the Election Management System used in November, in an apparent violation of the law.

“There is a federal statute that requires the preservation of election-related materials for 22 months after the date of the election,” he said. “That applies not only to the paper, but that also applies to digital artifacts.”

“Maricopa County failed to preserve the operating system security logs to cover the dates of the election,” Cotton continued.

“When we examined the [Election Management System] server, we found that the dates covered by the security log only went back as far as Feb. 5, 2021.”

Cotton stated that the previous log entries were intentionally overwritten, including on the day right before the audit was to begin.

Fann mentioned the overwritten log in a Friday letter to Brnovich.

“The audit found that Maricopa County overwrote the entire activity log in its Election Management System. This was accomplished by churning more than 37,000 identical queries several days after the court ordered Maricopa County to produce its election materials to the Arizona State Senate,” she wrote.

“Maricopa County also failed to provide documentation sufficient to reconcile duplicated ballots to corresponding original ballots, refused to cooperate with the audit, and directed its vendors not to cooperate with the audit either,” Fann added.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers in a Tuesday statement promised to “provide factual responses” to the issues raised by the auditors.

“The opinions that came out of Friday’s hearing were conjecture without proof and were twisted to fit the narrative that something went wrong,” Sellers said.

He added, “The fact is, the elections department ran accurate, secure and transparent elections in 2020.”

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