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Arizona GOP state senator who opposes audit says he can’t stop it

(Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – One Arizona Republican Senator is speaking out against the ongoing Maricopa County election audit ordered by his own party’s leadership, but he said there’s nothing he can do to stop it.

“I can complain about it, but at the end of the day it’s driven by leadership,” Sen. Paul Boyer told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Monday.

Boyer said it would be up to Senate President Karen Fann, who hired Cyber Ninjas to conduct the audit, to pull the plug on the controversial endeavor.

“If the Senate president was willing to say enough is enough, then certainly,” he said. “But can one state senator make that call? No.”

In February, the Senate won a monthslong legal battle with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for access to nearly 2.1 million ballots, voting machines and other materials from Maricopa County’s November elections.

The Senate judiciary committee had subpoenaed the GOP-led county Board of Supervisors for the items. When the board initially resisted, citing legal concerns, the Senate threatened to hold its members in contempt.

Boyer was the sole Republican to join Senate Democrats in voting against the contempt order, torpedoing an effort that could have landed the board’s four Republicans and one Democrat behind bars.

Once the audit was approved, Boyer said he was hoping Fann would hire an independent firm to conduct the audit. He said Cyber Ninjas doesn’t fit that bill.

“Obviously it wasn’t the best firm,” he said.

The audit underway at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum has drawn national attention, much of it less than flattering.

“I definitely think Republicans, independents, Democrats, everyone is looking at this with bemusement,” Boyer said.

He was quoted Sunday in The New York Times, saying the audit “makes us look like idiots” and “it’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”

Boyer said Monday he doesn’t always agree with his fellow GOP state senators and can’t speak for how they view the audit.

Counters are being paid $15 an hour to scrutinize each ballot, examining folds and taking close-up photos looking for machine-marked ballots and bamboo fibers in the paper. The reason appears to be to test a conspiracy theory that a plane from South Korea delivered counterfeit ballots to the Phoenix airport shortly after the election.

“It’s ridiculous to say that there were 40,000 ballots flown in from South Korea,” Boyer said Monday. “Someone’s been watching too many ‘Mission Impossible’ movies.”

The audit is recounting only the presidential race and the U.S. Senate contest, two contests won by Democrats. Down-ballot races, where Republicans fared better, are not being reviewed.

Fann insisted again Saturday that the audit has nothing to do with former President Donald Trump and everything to do with the large segment of GOP voters who he convinced that he actually won, despite the lack of evidence.

“Everybody keeps saying, oh, there’s no evidence and it’s like, yeah, well let’s do the audit and if there’s nothing there, then we say look, there was nothing there,” she said, according to The Associated Press.

“If we find something, and it’s a big if, but if we find something, then we can say, OK, we do have evidence and now how do we fix this.”

The ballots were handed over to Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm whose president, Doug Logan, is a Trump supporter who has shared conspiracy theories about the election.

That concern continues to the counters themselves. Anthony Kern, a former Republican state lawmaker who was photographed outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, has been spotted several times tallying the votes.

Senate Republicans are threatening to issue another subpoena demanding passwords for voting machines and internet routers.

County officials are balking, saying they’ve turned over all passwords they have and that giving up routers would jeopardize a wide variety of sensitive data, from health records to confidential and classified information at the sheriff’s office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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