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May 18, 2021

Last week, we brought you news about the Maricopa County election audit that hardly warranted a peep from most media. The Arizona State Senate had run into a brick wall --- who says Arizona doesn’t have a wall? --- in the form of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. They had refused to comply with a subpoena to turn over the routers to auditors, and also said they didn’t have the Dominion voting machine administrative passwords that also were under subpoena.

Also, auditors say there’s a database missing –- reportedly the entire directory for the 2020 general election, including “Results Tally and Reporting” –- but the Board denies this. Auditors have also found significant discrepancies in the number of ballots within some batches. So Senate President Karen Fann called a meeting for Tuesday, May 18, to try to work together without resorting to more subpoenas.

May 18. That’s today.

The Board of Supervisors met over the weekend with attorneys, and then held a “special” meeting on Monday afternoon, as their regular meeting isn’t till Wednesday. Apparently, their counsel has advised them to take an aggressive stance, because they came to Monday’s meeting loaded for bear.

The meeting was live-streamed and later posted on YouTube (though it looks as though the comments have been turned off), and this spectacle is a must-watch. The meeting, which comes to order at the 7:53 mark, is a real eye-opener. These people have circled the wagons.

In a way, that’s understandable; one gathers from what was said that Maricopa County has a history of problems –- including “major election mishaps” –- that the Board has worked hard over the past decade to improve, and they do NOT like the scrutiny, pressure and criticism they are receiving now. (They’ve also apparently experienced harassment, threats and even protesters showing up at their homes, and this is never acceptable.) Over and over during this meeting, they express pride in what they have accomplished and the care with which they handled the 2020 election before certifying it.

But if that’s true, why won’t they just be transparent about the whole thing? Methinks they doth protest too much. They should cooperate as they are legally obligated to do. Then when the audit shows how perfectly they ran the election, they can take a big bow for the great job they did. Of course, if the audit turns up any questions, they should be able to provide explanations or show where the auditors are wrong.

Curiously, they aren’t looking at it that way at all.

Chairman Jack Sellers starts off with a searing rebuke of Sen. Fann for her letter. He makes an incredible and I would say defamatory claim, accusing her of trying to “legitimize a grift disguised as an audit.”

“This board is DONE,” he says. He accuses those who want answers of “playing investigator.” The “Ninjas” (Cyber Ninjas, one of the auditing companies) are incompetent and can't find files that were given to them. They are “unqualified auditors” who “don’t know what they’re doing." You’ll see this is the default explanation taken by the board when they’ve got nothing else.

A long prepared statement/letter is then read aloud by one of their colleagues, the Maricopa County recorder. He says he personally witnessed the transfer of all the databases, with his “own eyes” and that he has “done enough.”

“You all have been subject to six months of harassment,” he tells the Board. I would add that this didn’t have to take anywhere near six months; THEY are the ones who’ve been delaying.

He goes through the three major concerns that Sen. Fann wrote about and that we outlined last week. They don’t have the password she’s demanding, he says, because “it is not needed to run any of our operations.” And Dominion will not give passwords to anyone but “certified election companies,” he explains. My answer to that is if Dominion has them, they’d better make an exception to their precious policy right now and hand them over if they want to stay in the election business. It’s the State Senate’s audit, they have the constitutional authority to run their state’s election, and elections must be auditable, period. And just who is working for whom?

About the routers, he says something stunning that requires some verification: that removing them from the machines would cost the county about $6 million. What? Who’s in charge of cost control in Maricopa County, the Pentagon?

He also repeated the claim that removing the routers would jeopardize the security of other county records. Sen. Fann has already proposed special restricted viewing to protect the other records, but he ignores that. “The county will not give over the routers,” he says flatly.

He denies there were chain of custody problems without addressing certain issues of concern. He also questions the security of the ballots while they're being temporarily stored during a break in the audit. It’s ironic that he questions the security of the ballots now while offering total assurance of their security earlier.

“No files from the 2020 election have been deleted,” he says. Okay, let’s find out for sure. Maybe someone ELSE surreptitiously deleted data at some point. That wouldn’t be the board’s fault. But we need to know.

He describes the CEO of Cyber Ninjas as espousing “the craziest election theories, involving Hugo Chavez.” So, why not cooperate with the audit and prove him to be a conspiracy crackpot?

The board is mostly Republican, but I think we can identify the Democrat. He’s surely the former member of the State Senate –- and also of the Maricopa County Elections Department –- who says he wants Sen. Fann not just to lessen her demands but to “stop this audit.” He says the problems were started a couple of days after the vote by people who said, “We don’t like who won the election, so let’s call [it] into question. Let’s start rumors and unfounded statements and conspiracies...let’s do everything we can to undermine the will of the voter, undermine our democracy...” He says “outside forces” control Sen. Fann. (What about "outside forces" like Marc Elias and the scores of lawyers who've been trying to shut the audit down?) He says the Senate is ignoring both federal and state law but gives no specifics, though his offensive rant keeps going.

And he goes a bridge too far. He lets us see a little too far into his mind, and he insults millions of honest, rational people who have seen significant problems with this election and deserve answers.

Another board member tells us that none of them are “afraid, running or trying to cover something up.” Overall, he at least sounds more reasonable, not calling for the audit to be halted but just to be recognizable as the kind of audit one might see for a business. Really, I think that’s what the Senate has tried to do, but the county has fought them at every step.

At the meeting’s end, the chairman says he “won’t be responding to any more requests from this sham process.” Has he ever heard of contempt of court? Meeting adjourned!

Keep watching, and an audit report from Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward will play. An excellent palate cleanser.

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Comments 1-5 of 5

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  • Michael D Bornholdt

    05/20/2021 11:43 AM

    This has been going on for way too long. At first, I thought they are mostly Republicans so let's give them a chance to explain. Now, due to their dragging their feet, and certainly seems like they must have something to hide, find them in contempt of senate/court and go arrest the Board. Maybe if they have to spend time behind bars they will think they might need to be a little bit more transparent.

  • Sandra Blanz

    05/19/2021 09:56 AM

    Judge should issue an order to arrest them all until they turn over requested information.

  • Robert Martynowski

    05/18/2021 09:10 PM

    Typical response from a guilty party trying to hide something - attack, name call and intimidate. If there was no wrong doing they would gladly provide the information requested to prove it. The good guys need to keep cool heads and respond maturely to get to the truth.