AZ County’s GOP-Dominated Board Of Supervisors Rails Against State’s ‘Sham’ Audit

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May 17, 2021 6:04 p.m.

The board of supervisors of Maricopa County, Arizona railed against a review of the county’s 2020 election results ordered by the state Senate during a fiery board meeting Monday. 

“As chairman of this board, I just want to make it clear: I will not be responding to any more requests from this sham process,” board Chairman Jack Sellers (R) said at the end of the meeting. “Finish what you’re calling an audit and be ready to defend your report in a court of law. We all look forward to it.” 

Sellers and the rest of the board — which is comprised of four Republicans and one Democrat — were responding to a letter from Senate President Karen Fann last week in which Fann wrote that auditors had discovered “apparent omissions, inconsistencies, and anomalies relating to Maricopa County’s handling, organization, and storage of ballots,” among other issues. 

The audit was commissioned by the Republican-controlled state Senate, and Fann chose the firm “Cyber Ninjas” to lead the review, even though the company’s CEO boosted wild conspiracy theories about the election results online and has ties to fringe pro-Trump figures, including the lawyer Lin Wood. The audit has stumbled into a series of logistical issues — most recently the end of its lease at the coliseum at which it was counting votes (the local school district had booked the venue for high school graduations).

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In addition to Fann’s letter outlining several serious allegations of wrongdoing, the Senate’s Twitter account — which Fann has said she doesn’t control — recently accused Maricopa County of “spoliation of evidence!” because of a purportedly missing database on the county’s server.

County Recorder Steven Richer, a Republican who took office in January, dismissed that allegation quickly on Monday. 

“Every file the Senate has asked for is there,” he said. “No files from the 2020 elections have been deleted.” 

The county’s written response to Fann, which the board voted to approve Monday, laid fault at the feet of the auditors: “[T]he failure of your so called ‘auditors’ to locate data files on the copy they made of the County’s server speaks more to their ineptitude than it does to the integrity and actions of our dedicated public employees who effectively and accurately run the elections in the fourth largest county in the United States.” 

Another complaint from Fann, alleging that transmission slips accompanying the ballots did not match the actual number of ballots present, was “the result of enlisting auditors who have no experience or background in elections, and failing to understand how to read election transmission slips,” Richer said.

Earlier, Sellers had referred to Fann’s letter as a request to do “on-the-job training” for the Cyber Ninjas auditors. He called the recount a “grift disguised as an audit.” And after Richer finished summarizing the county’s response, the rest of the board of supervisors tee’d off as well. 

Fann had invited the board to attend a meeting to discuss her concerns on Tuesday, but supervisor Bill Gates (R) dismissed the invitation: “This board was going to be part of a political theater broadcast on livestream by OAN,” he said, referring to One America News, the far-right broadcaster and Senate-approved live-streamer of the audit process. 

“The Arizona Senate is better than that, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is better than that, we’re not going to be a part of that,” Gates said. 

Steve Gallardo, the board’s only Democrat, said Fann had “let the Senate go and be in the hands of outside consultants that have no idea how elections are conducted.” 

“The fact is this, folks: The election wasn’t in question until a couple days after the final vote count. That’s when, all of the sudden, ‘Woah, there might be problems! We don’t like who won the election, so let’s call it into question,’” he said. 

Gallardo alleged that “outside forces” had taken control of the Arizona Senate. “President Fann does not have the political courage, the wisdom, to be able to stop it,” he said. “She has gone along with it.” 

In the supervisors’ letter responding to Fann, the supervisors concluded by calling for Fann to shut down the audit altogether, saying that Arizona had become a “laughingstock.” 

“You certainly must recognize that things are not going well at the Coliseum,” the board wrote. “You also must know that the County’s election was free and fair, and that our Elections Department did an outstanding job conducting it.” 

“It is time to end this,” they added. “For the good of the Senate, for the good of the Country and for the good of the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans.”

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