The audit of Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 election ordered by the Arizona Legislature finished last month, and State Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) said Tuesday the ballot totals don’t match the county’s official results. She told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show, “They haven’t released a number yet, if you will, however we do know that those numbers do not match with Maricopa County at this point.”
When asked about the degree of the discrepancy in the audit versus the official county tallies, Fann said, “I do not know. They have not told me the number;” adding that the auditors are “finishing up.”
While the hand counts of the presidential and U.S. Senate race are finished, the legislature is conducting a third count using independent voting machines, “not Dominion’s,” according to Fann. It will focus on counting the number of ballots, not the actual votes. State Spokesman Randy Pullen, a former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, said the new machine count will take place through next week.
Critics of the ballot audit are already saying if the numbers are off, it must be due to the incompetence of the people conducting the audit. Jack Sellers, chairman of the Maricopa County Supervisors, which fought the audit in court, said in a statement:
While experienced professionals at the County used the latest certified tabulation technology and established processes to count almost 2.1 million ballots in accordance with Arizona law, the Senate contractors have taken a different approach. They’ve cycled through processes and procedures, chasing conspiracy theories while volunteers with no elections experience tried to accurately count votes as they spun by on turntables. Elections experts from across the country have said this method is flawed and will produce incorrect results.
Arizona loosened its absentee vote by mail in 1991. Early voting was established six years later in 1997. Absentee voting rates in Arizona are as high as 80%. However, in the state’s 2020 primary election, the Secretary of State reported that 88% of all the votes cast were by absentee ballot.
During the KTAR interview, Fann addressed criticism of the company conducting the audit, Cyber Ninjas. “I’m confident because it’s not just them,” she said. “Everybody keeps just counting on them when actually they are working with a number of other contractors that have experience in audits and in their expertise in their own fields … This is a joint effort.” She emphasized that the second audit is “triple-checking, just to make sure that this is all correct.”
CEO Doug Logan runs Cyber Ninjas. According to the company’s website, he has more than 20 years experience in IT and received the SANS 2015 Difference Makers Award. The awards are bestowed on people “whose innovation, skill and hard work have resulted in real increases in information security.”
Logan issued a statement at the end of April outlining the qualifications of the auditors, “What’s important to remember is that Cyber Ninjas is the coordinating firm of four companies conducting components of the audit. In each component, the company administering that work has election experience in that area. Each member of our team has been part of election audits, including Cyber Ninjas, which was part of election audits in Michigan and in Georgia.”
There are a number of troubling discrepancies emerging from the audit, from large amounts of ballots coming from single residences to the number of ballots found in boxes varying widely from the pink tally sheets.
The election results from Maricopa County showed President Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 45,109 votes. Biden won the state by 10,457 votes. In 2016, Trump won the state by about 91,000 votes, and Maricopa County by about 24,000 votes. Democrat Mark Kelly beat incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally in Maricopa County by 80,193 votes. She lost by 78,806 votes statewide.
Maricopa County traditionally leans Republican; there are about 100,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. In 2020, Republicans performed better than Democrats in Maricopa County in most races. In the Maricopa County Treasurer’s race, which featured two non-incumbents, the Republican beat the Democrat 46.65% to 42.46%. The Maricopa County Recorder, an incumbent Democrat who oversees Maricopa County Elections, lost to a Republican. Republican County Assessor Eddie Cook, who was appointed to the office in 2020, beat the Democrat 47.46% to 43.18%. Republican County Attorney Allister Adel, who was appointed to the office in 2019, beat the Democrat 46.45% to 44.63%. Incumbent Republican County School Superintendent Steve Watson beat the Democrat 45.47% to 44.90%.
The results of the audit are expected to be released as soon as late July, although it could take as long as Labor Day. Fann is holding an election audit hearing Thursday morning at 10 a.m.
Listen to the full interview:
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].