ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona auditors confirm no Maricopa County election databases were deleted

May 18, 2021, 4:57 PM | Updated: May 19, 2021, 8:49 am
Arizona Senate recount of 2020 Maricopa County election. (Courtesy photo/Mark Henle)...
Arizona Senate recount of 2020 Maricopa County election. (Courtesy photo/Mark Henle)
(Courtesy photo/Mark Henle)

PHOENIX — Arizona auditors confirmed Tuesday during a Senate meeting that no Maricopa County election databases were deleted despite a previous allegation from the audit’s official Twitter account that election officials eliminated the evidence.

Ben Cotton, founder of a computer forensics firm working on the audit, told Senate President Karen Fann and fellow Republican Sen. Warren Petersen, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that he recovered files that were supposedly deleted.

“I discovered an MFT that clearly indicated that the database directory was deleted from that server,” Cotton said. “All of this may be a moot point because subsequently, I’ve been able to recover all of those files and I have access to that data.”

Maricopa County’s 14-page letter and supporting documentation sent to Fann on Monday included a rebuttal to the claim, saying the auditors couldn’t find the data because they didn’t know where to look.

The county followed up with a tweet Tuesday reaffirming the rebuttal.

“Your tweet, which relies on the ‘modified date’ shown in the screenshot as evidence of wrongdoing, is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors’ incompetence,” the letter says.

“Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County.”

The claim of deleted databases was amplified by former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who believe conspiracy theories about election irregularities.

The audit’s official Twitter account, which has about 60,000 followers, tweeted the allegation Wednesday and it received more than 12,000 retweets.

It was the account’s pinned tweet until Tuesday.

At the Senate’s hourlong meeting, Fann and Petersen asked friendly questions of Cotton, Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan and Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state serving as the Senate’s audit liaison.

The meeting was broadcast online but was not open to the press or public. Neither senators nor auditors answered questions from the media.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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