Arizona Senate election audit official: ‘Ludicrous’ to say machines ruined
PHOENIX – Arizona Senate liaison Ken Bennett on Monday scoffed at the notion Maricopa County’s voting machines can’t be reused after being inspected during the ongoing Cyber Ninjas-led election audit.
“That’s totally ludicrous,” Bennett told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on the day the audit resumed following a 10-day hiatus necessitated by a scheduling conflict.
On Thursday, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors that said the equipment has “been compromised” as a result of being handled by Senate-hired contractors and can’t be used in future elections.
Bennett, a former state Secretary of State, said the equipment has been kept secure and handled properly.
“There’s nothing that’s been done to the machines that would make them unusable,” he said.
According to Hobbs’ letter, election security experts told her office that once machines leave the custody of election officials there’s no way to ensure they are safe to use again.
“Instead, the county should acquire new machines to ensure secure and accurate elections in Maricopa County going forward,” the letter said.
The cost of replacing the Dominion Voting Systems machines in the state’s largest county has been estimated at more than $6 million.
Bennett said it’s “crazy” to say the county will have to purchase new equipment.
“There’s nothing wrong with these machines,” he said. “If the county needs to spend a few thousand dollars to have Dominion come back in and verify that, they could do that easily instead of talk about, ‘They’re totally unusable we’ve got to get rid of them.’ That’s crazy,” Bennett said.
Maricopa County has already authorized two audits of its November 2020 general election and found no problems with the count.
At the urging of supporters of Donald Trump who refuse to accept President Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, the Senate insisted on a third and subpoenaed the nearly 2.1 million ballots and equipment.
After winning a legal fight over the subpoena, Senate President Karen Fann hired Florida-based Cyber Ninjas to oversee three other contractors on the audit.
Fann, Republican, said the aim of the audit is to restore faith in the election system, not to reverse the result of the Arizona election.
However, her selection of Cyber Ninjas’ $150,000 bid quickly drew scrutiny over founder Doug Logan’s deleted Twitter account, which had activity supporting unfounded election conspiracy theories.
Questions have since arisen about the sources of funds being raised in the name of the audit as well as unorthodox methods of inspecting ballots.
County officials have defended the integrity of their election operations and questioned the auditors’ methods and intentions. On Friday, County Attorney Allister Adel sent Fann a hold and preservation notice asking contractors and others associated with the audit to preserve documents and evidence for possible legal action.
The audit began April 23 at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The counting paused May 14 because of graduation ceremonies previously booked at the Coliseum for last week and resumed Monday.
At the time of the break, about 500,000 ballots, less than 25% percent of the total, had been counted. The Coliseum is available to the auditors through the end of June.
“So we’re confident that that will give us enough time to get the other three-quarters of the ballots county,” said Bennett, who at the start of the audit expressed confidence it would be completed by the original May 14 goal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.