Speed Reads

Failing Arizona

Arizona's Maricopa County won't use any voting machines confiscated for GOP election 'audit'

Maricopa County, Arizona, announced Monday that it will replace all of the voting equipment handed over to private contractors for an election "audit" ordered by Arizona's Republican-controlled Senate. "The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured, the county will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections," Maricopa County said in a statement. "As a result, the county will not use the subpoenaed equipment in any future elections."

Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors told Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in a letter Monday that it shares her concerns about potential tampering by the GOP-hired Florida audit contractors, Cyber Ninjas, which is not certified to handle election equipment in the U.S. When the state Senate subpoenaed the machines, compelling the county to turn over about 400 tabulating machines and 2.1 million ballots, that broke the chain of custody. Cyber Ninja's examination of the ballots has been widely panned by election experts as slapdash and lacking in basic security and transparency. 

In May, the GOP-led Maricopa County government slammed the "audit" in a fiery letter to the state Senate. "Our state has become a laughingstock," the five Republicans and two Democrats wrote. "Worse, this 'audit' is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic."

A Maricopa County spokesman said the county isn't sure who will pay for the new equipment. When the Senate seized the ballots and voting equipment, it agreed to reimburse the county for any costs incurred "as a result of damage and/or alternation of the Subpoenaed Materials by the Senate or its agents." The county is considering asking the Senate to cover the costs of new equipment and also discussing with Dominion Voting Systems whether it has to pay the remaining $3 million it owes under a three-year lease.

Cyber Ninjas has drawn scrutiny for its lack of audit experience and deeply flawed effort in Maricopa County, but critics also point out that its CEO, Doug Logan, has backed former President Donald Trump's false claims about the election being rigged. On Saturday in Phoenix, Trump supporters and QAnon conspiracy theorists debuted The Deep Rig, a film bankrolled by former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and based on debunked 2020 election fraud claims. Logan is revealed to be the voice of "Anon" halfway through the film.