NewsArizona News


What do missing files, ballot claims around the Maricopa county election audit mean?

Maricopa County election audit
Posted at 6:46 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 11:47:12-04

Update: Thursday evening Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers released a statement refuting the claims made in the letter. The statement demands “an immediate retraction of any public statement made to the media and spread via Twitter.” The County plans on holding a public meeting on Monday on the matter.

Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann (R- Prescott) sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors informing them that auditors have discovered “serious issues.” Fann identifies three issues in particular: Non-compliance of the legislative subpoena, chain of custody issues with the ballots, and evidence of database files being removed from the election management computer.

The letter was sent to Maricopa county on the same day that Arizona Secretary of State, Democrat Katie Hobbs, released a statement on social media that observers representing her office had located a wireless router connected to the audit network.

Audit leaders acknowledged the router but said that the antenna was not turned on and the router was being used to assign internal network addresses to the computer equipment.

Here is what we know so far about the complaints in Fann’s letter.

“Subpoena Non-Compliance and Password”

Fann states that Maricopa county has “refused to produce virtual images of routers used in connection with the general election.” The county Board of Supervisors have previously declined to provide the routers as well as virtual images since the traffic information on the routers include not just election department network traffic, but traffic for all the county’s departments including “sensitive data” from law enforcement.

She also says that the county has refused to “provide the passwords necessary to access vote tabulation devices.”

The passwords have become a sticking point for both parties.

Maricopa county insists that the passwords are not in their control since they are only needed by the vendor to maintain parts of the tabulation equipment software that is not directly responsible for tabulating ballots.

The Senate letter argues that the county would have been unable to conduct its own independent audit, two of which were completed in February, without these passwords.

“Chain of Custody and Ballot Organization Anomalies”

Audit staff have identified what they refer to as “apparent omissions, inconsistencies, and anomalies relating to Maricopa County’s handling, organization, and storage of ballots.”

After ballots are counted by the machine tabulator, they are organized into batches of around 200. A “pink slip” is then added to the batch that assigns it a batch number and the number of ballots contained in the batch. This is done so that if a hand count is ever required, the process would be more efficient, and ballots can be easily compared between a hand count and a machine count.

Audit staff claims they have identified multiple examples of batches in which the pink slip total did not match the actual number of ballots in the batch. They also listed several other items such as failure to seal storage bags, not using tamper-proof tape, and general disorganization of the batches themselves.

So far the county has not provided a response to this claim, but a spokesperson for the county recorder said in a text message “…much of the letter is a misunderstanding of election operations.”

“Deleted Databases”

Word of Fann’s letter initially went viral on social media when the Arizona audit Twitter account published a picture showing file names that were contained in a database directory that had been recently deleted, but were recovered by the audit vendor CyFir.

In the tweet, they accuse the county of deleting “a directory full of election databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit.”

ABC15 reviewed this claim and the image published on social media.

Of the 27 database files listed in the image, seven had names indicating that they may be related to the 2020 General Election.

ABC15 reached out to Ryan Macias, the former Assistant Director of Equipment Certification for the Election Assistance Commission. Macias is a representative for Secretary Hobbs on the audit floor, which he says he is doing pro bono.

Macias reviewed the image and ascertained, based on the names and the dates, that the seven remaining deleted database files were from a post machine test that is required by statute after each election called a “logic and accuracy test,” as well as the two audits already conducted at the county by ProV&V and SLI.

The letter also lists a database called “Results Tally and Reporting” as not being located on the server, however, the posted image did not list this database. Without further context, Macias was unable to make a determination on the claim.

The letter requests county representatives with knowledge of the concerning information to come to the capitol on May 18 at 1 p.m.