Maricopa County audit of 2020 election divides Arizona Republicans

Politics

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. (NewsNation Now) —Tensions are rising within Arizona’s Republican party over the ongoing audit of the 2020 presidential election results.

The debate has reached a breaking point. As the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, made up of mostly Republicans, demands an end to the audit. They say the process has made Arizona a “laughingstock.”

Maricopa County leaders have refused to take part in the recount, calling the audit “a grift and a sham”.

Those behind the effort defended it. Arizona Senate President Karen Fann insists that the ongoing audit of the 2020 election is not about overturning the result.

“What this is about, is the Arizona Senate, we are in charge of creating passing laws and ensuring elections are done properly, accurately, safely with full election integrity,” said Fann.

Her Senate hearing went on Tuesday despite the refusal of Maricopa County leaders to participate.

County officials have refused the Senate’s demand to provide administrative passwords to vote-counting machines and internet routers, saying the county doesn’t have the passwords and releasing the routers would compromise sensitive data.

“Our audit is focused on specifically the results. Are the results exactly as they were as they came through. Are they as they were cast and does it go all the way through the system that way,” said Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan.

Some Republicans have been highly critical of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida firm hired to conduct the audit despite no experience handling elections.

The ongoing process at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum started nearly a month ago and the hand count of ballots is only about a quarter way through. It’s now on hold for a week as the Coliseum is used for high school graduations.

The hearing did not shed light on a central question of the audit: who’s paying. The Senate has agreed to pay Cyber Ninjas $150,000, but Logan has acknowledged that’s not enough to cover his costs. He has refused to say how much the audit is costing or who is contributing. At least two fundraisers, one organized by a pro-Trump cable network and the other by a prominent Trump donor, have claimed to have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“This was an audit that was going to be run by known partisans. That is the reality of what we’re facing here. We were cooperative, we took the ballots there, we took the machines, we didn’t fight them. But we are not participating in this audit,” said Maricopa County board vice chairman Bill Gates.

Observers have criticized the audit process as murky and sloppy. The board strongly refuted accusations that any data was ever deleted.

Maricopa County Board chairman Jack Sellers also went after Cyber Ninjas for requesting so much help.

“We wouldn’t be asked to do this on-the-job training if qualified auditors had been hired to do this work,” said Sellers.

Two previous audits by Maricopa County had found the 2020 election count to be accurate, with President Joe Biden winning by more than two points.

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