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Hobbs: Maricopa County election audit sets dangerous precedent for country

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs looks over the Arizona Presidential Electoral Ballot from the members of Arizona's Electoral College, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate’s audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County won’t change Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory in the state, but Arizona’s top election official said what it does do is set a dangerous precedent for the country.

“The real problem and what I think we all should be concerned about in terms of election integrity is that these are a group of people using their power to continue to perpetuate the big lie and undermine Arizonans’ confidence in our very, very good election system,” Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Monday.

“We had the most secure election with historic participation in Arizona and across the country than we’ve seen ever and we should be celebrating that and building on that.”

Conspiracy theories about the election have proliferated in Arizona and nationwide since Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump.

Biden won Arizona last year by 10,457 votes and won in Maricopa County by 45,109 votes.

“This is a group of people who really is like the squeaky wheel that got the grease,” Hobbs said. “They whine hard enough and they are getting something.”

After repeated reviews of the election results in Maricopa County found no issues that would overturn Biden’s narrow victory in Arizona, a judge ruled the Senate could access Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots for a hand recount.

“This is setting a dangerous precedent for the country and dangerously continuing to undermine voter’s confidence in our system,” Hobbs said.

Republican Senate President Karen Fann hired cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas to conduct the audit, a company with no election experience that is owned by a man who shared unfounded allegations of election fraud on his since-deleted Twitter account.

The audit started Friday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“They really have no expertise in any of the issues that they are dealing with right now,” Hobbs said. “That became very clear when they sent a list of questions to Maricopa County about voting procedures when they were first awarded the contract.

“I don’t think any of the training they are providing for the people doing this has been made public so we don’t know anything about it but I certainly think using the word ‘expertise’ here is very generous.”

Experts on election administration and security have expressed alarm at the Senate’s audit, which they say isn’t following standard procedures to transparently and accurately count votes, and a lawsuit was filed Friday to pause the audit.

However, the process will move forward after Democrats decided not to put up a $1 million bond to fund any increase in costs from the delay, stating the price tag was too steep.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury ordered the Senate auditors to produce their training materials and policies before a Monday hearing, but that hearing was rescheduled when Coury recused himself Sunday.

Cyber Ninjas prompted Coury to recuse himself from the case by adding an attorney to its team who previously worked as Coury’s intern.

A new judge will be assigned but the audit will continue.

Hobbs said her position on the Senate’s audit is she does not want to lend any credibility to it and added “I think we should not lend any validity to whatever comes out of this process.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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