The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved on Wednesday a “full forensic audit” of the county’s election equipment after weeks of wrangling with state legislators.
The Arizona county intends to hire independent firms to conduct two separate audits, one beginning on Feb. 2 and the other on Feb. 8, on its voting machines and other equipment. The investigators will look at the voting equipment’s “hacking vulnerability, verify that no malicious malware was installed, and test that tabulators were not sending or receiving information over the internet,” the county said in a statement.
“Maricopa County elections were administered with integrity throughout 2020. That’s a fact. Multiple audits to date have proved as much, and multiple court rulings have concurred,” said Jack Sellers, who chairs the Board of Supervisors. “It’s also true that a significant number of voters want the additional assurance that a full forensic audit of tabulation equipment might bring, especially given all the misinformation that spread following the November 3 election. This audit shows our commitment to providing that assurance.”
Vice Chairman Bill Gates added: “We’re doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. The audit will be conducted in a way that safeguards private voter information and protects the investment made by county taxpayers in the tabulation equipment. My hope is that the audit results will ensure the residents of Maricopa County have the same confidence in our elections system that we have.”
Maricopa County officials have feuded with state lawmakers for weeks following the November elections over access to their voting equipment and records. The debate sparked a legal fight in December when Republican state senators sued the county to force it to turn over copies of ballots and other records in accordance with subpoenas issued by lawmakers.
Discussion appeared to have reached a resolution last week when Sellers sent a letter to Senate President Karen Fann recognizing “the power of the House and the Senate to each issue legislative subpoenas … with which each legislative body can gather needed information to determine whether and how to carry out each’s respective constitutional function.”
Fann proclaimed victory after the letter, announcing in a statement that “we have reached a favorable agreement with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors” in which the board “agreed to turn over all the relevant information we sought in our subpoenas so that we may perform an audit.”
In the days and weeks following the election, Maricopa County was the center of a number of allegations of election errors and misconduct made by former President Donald Trump’s campaign and members of the Arizona GOP. The Trump campaign sued Maricopa County on Nov. 8 over such allegations, though a judge dismissed the lawsuit less than a week later after the campaign’s legal team admitted that the number of votes it was challenging would not impact the outcome of the election.