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Pre-lawsuit letter: Maricopa County doubling down that it did not delete election data

Maricopa County election audit
Posted at 7:18 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 22:18:14-04

PHOENIX, AZ — The question of whether Maricopa County deleted data from its election servers or not before handing them over to the auditors representing the Arizona State Senate may now bring the parties to a head in court.

Maricopa County Attorney Alister Adel has sent a litigation hold to leaders of the Arizona audit to preserve their documents, the first step in what could become a lawsuit against the companies running the audit.

The letter takes aim at Arizona Senate President Karen Fann’s May 13 letter claiming that a subcontractor of the audit “recently discovered that the entire ‘database’ directory from the D drive of the machine ‘EMSPrimary’ has been deleted.

A social media post from the audit’s Twitter account posted the information a day earlier, declaring it “spoliation of evidence.”

The post went viral showing up in right-leaning media outlets and being mentioned by former President Trump, who stated that Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich should look into the matter.

In a press conference on Monday, Maricopa County pushed back, releasing a technical explanation that refuted the claims that any data was deleted off the server and that auditors misconfigured the hard drives in a way that caused them to believe that the data had been removed.

Ben Cotton, founder of CyFIR and the subcontractor responsible for the data forensic audit appeared at an informal hearing led by Senate President Fann and Senator Warren Petersen where he acknowledged that the hard drives had been misconfigured, but he called the matter a “moot point” since he was able to recover the missing data. When pressed by Petersen, Cotton referred to the data as deleted.

The following day, the Audit Twitter account released a statement from Cotton reaffirming that the data was deleted from the server.

Adel emphasizes in her letter to the auditors that “Our clients delivered the server exactly as it was kept by the Maricopa County Elections Department. Nothing was deleted, or added, from the server when we prepared it to be sent to the Senate pursuant to the Senate’s subpoena.”

The letter advises senate liaison Ken Bennet and audit contractors Cyber Ninjas, CyFir, and Wake TSI to preserve documents, both electronic or paper correspondence, as well as all social media posts and communication devices.

Maricopa County’s almost 2.1 million ballots from the general election are currently stored on the Arizona State Fairgrounds under surveillance while the Coliseum is being used by Phoenix Union High School. Audit leaders have said that operations will resume on Monday and they expect to be completed by the middle of June.

Read the letter here: