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Maricopa County begins elections audit, some Arizona senators still argue for more

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Posted at 9:25 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 23:25:08-05

PHOENIX — After months of debate, legal challenges and subpoenas, Maricopa County began the first of two planned audits to its elections systems Tuesday morning.

Auditors with Pro V&V, one of two companies with active accreditation with the Elections Assistance Commission, plan to run multiple tests on tabulators used to count votes cast in-person on Election Day, machines that counted early ballots and software used in the elections process.

Several tests aim to confirm whether any of the county's machines were connected to the internet, whether any malware was installed or if there was any vote-switching in the process of counting the ballots from the 2020 general election.

No evidence of any of those claims exist.

Still, many voters and a handful of state leaders have questioned the county. This is after county elections administrators reported President Joe Biden beat incumbent former President Donald Trump by more than 45,000 votes last year.

“I'm very confident that between the two companies that we are bringing in that they should be able to answer any questions that are legitimate concerns about whether or not this was done properly," said Jack Sellers, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “There are too many people now that question whether or not everything was done openly and fairly and that’s what we want to ultimately answer for the majority of the average voters.”

The Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee filed subpoenas demanding a third-party audit in December, casting doubt on the election results.

Last month, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to hire two independent firms to conduct two separate audits.

The first will run through February 5 and the second will begin on Monday, February 8.

Last week, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann announced the Senate would also be hiring a third-party firm and planned to conduct an audit separate from those the county's conducting.

The Senate has not yet said which company they've hired for the job, or what materials they planned to audit.

Still, the Senate imposed a last-minute deadline of noon Tuesday for a response from county supervisors.

County supervisors are expected to respond to the full extent of the Senate's subpoenas, which would include delivering ballots, or ballot images, as well as machines to the Senate.

Maricopa County delivered several hundred pages of data to the Senate earlier this year, to comply with subpoenas. However, the county says they do not plan to turn over any physical ballots, or ballot images to the Senate, citing several state statutes.

ARS 16-624 states that elections officers in charge of the election "shall deposit the package or envelope containing the ballots in a secure facility manages by the county treasurer, who shall keep it unopened and unaltered for twenty-four months for elections for a federal office or for six months for all other elections, at which time he shall destroy it without opening or examining the contents."

One exception to this is included in the statute:

"If a recount is ordered, or a contest begun within six months, the county treasurer may be ordered by the court to deliver it to the packages or envelopes containing the ballots, and thereupon they shall be in the custody and control of the court."

After county supervisors again stood by their decision, Senate Judiciary Committee Leader Warren Petersen tweeted, "The Arizona Senate is drafting a resolution of contempt against the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for failing to comply with the Senate's subpoena."