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Local Republicans Claim Trump’s Election Audit and Fraud Claims Giving Arizona a ‘Black Eye’

Early voting and absentee ballots are processed ahead of the presidential election in Tucson, Ariz., October 31, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

Top Republicans in Arizona’s Maricopa county, the largest in the state, spoke out against the election audit and ongoing claims of voter fraud Monday.

The GOP-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors initiated an audit of 2.1 million ballots in its jurisdiction after allegations of widespread voter fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election were levied against Arizona. After many days of final tallying, the state’s popular and electoral college votes were confirmed for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who ultimately won the presidential race.

Arizona senate leader Karen Fann was charged with supervising the audit, which has since surpassed its original confines and framework. Board Chairman Jack Sellers said Fann is making an “attempt at legitimatizing a grift disguised as an audit.” The county in question in the audit, Maricopa, was reliable Republican territory until it flipped for Biden last year.

Fann invoked a Senate subpoena to seize ballots and voting machines located in Maricopa County, submitting them to Cyber Ninjas, a small cybersecurity firm headquartered in Florida, to conduct the audit alongside other subcontractors.

Last week, Fann wrote to Sellers disputing his allegation that county officials failed to adequately secure the ballots and voting machines and had eliminated some data. The county responded Monday by defending its processes, deflecting responsibility, and blaming Cyber Ninjas for the loss of any data.

“They can’t find the files because they don’t know what they’re doing,” Sellers said during a public forum held to dispute Fann’s claims. “We wouldn’t be asked to do this on-the-job training if qualified auditors had been hired to do this work.”

The audit has triggered division and frustration within the county. Maricopa officials have refused to attend a questioning period in the Senate Tuesday, as requested by Fann, and to turn over the county’s internet routers to Fann, which could put other sensitive security data at risk.

Fann has also demanded an administrative password for vote-counting machines, but  Dominion Voting Systems Inc., the system’s manufacturer, will only provide access to certified election firms, according to county officials. Cyber Ninjas has not been classified as a certified vendor.

County Republicans said they would challenge with litigation Monday if senators or auditors accused them of legal wrong doing. They encouraged elected representatives in the state to voice their apprehensions about and criticisms of the audit.

“Elected Republicans, I think, are afraid of the next election and they can’t be,” said Bill Gates, the vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “They’ve got to stand for what is right. Otherwise, why did they run for office in the first place?”

In an effort to put the pressure on business leaders to take a stand against the audit, Gates urged people to “contact those elected officials who they donate money to.”

“This is creating a black eye to Arizona and I would think that those business leaders would want this to stop,” Gates said.

The Arizona Republican objections to the audit come after the Department of Justice’s civil rights division signaled that it was concerned that the audit would normalize voter intimidation or lead to insecure ballot processing in future elections.

The “description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters,” Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division, wrote to Fann earlier this month.

“Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act,” Karlan commented.

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