Sparks Fly in Arizona Recount Protestors in support of former President Donald Trump gather outside Veterans Memorial Coliseum where Ballots from the 2020 general election wait to be counted on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Maricopa County ballot recount comes after two election audits found no evidence of widespread fraud in Arizona. (Courtney Pedroza/Getty)
By Brian Trusdell | Tuesday, 18 May 2021 04:52 PM
A faction of Arizona Republicans is actively feuding with the GOP-led Arizona Senate over the audit of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County, with county officials battling Senate President Karen Fann over claims of “serious issues” uncovered by examiners.
The feud erupted over the weekend after former President Trump released a statement alleging that the “entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!”
Describing such action as “illegal,” Trump pressed for the involvement of Arizona’s state attorney general to investigate.
“This is illegal and the Arizona State Senate, who is leading the Forensic Audit, is up in arms. Additionally, seals were broken on the boxes that hold the votes, ballots are missing, and worse,” Trump added.
Maricopa County Stephen Richer, a Republican, exploded on Twitter on Saturday after Trump released his statement, calling it “unhinged” and “insane lies.”
The rhetorical war has been brewing since December when the Arizona Senate decided to audit election results from Maricopa County, whose population of approximately 4.5 million represents more than 60% of the state’s residents and whose registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 100,000 as of last October.
The Maricopa County board is also controlled by a Republican majority of four with just one Democrat member.
Joe Biden defeated Trump by more than 45,000 votes in the county, which resulted in an 10,000-vote victory statewide for Biden.County officials went to court to block the Senate from taking control of election records and equipment needed to conduct the audit, The New York Times reported.
The battle escalated in the past two weeks when auditors sought, and the Senate threatened with more subpoenas to enforce, passwords and other access to computers, routers and other equipment.
The most recent flare-up ignited when Fann sent a letter Wednesday to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors complaining of the county’s failure to comply with the first round of subpoenas. Auditors also had discovered problems regarding a chain of custody with ballots and evidence of database files being deleted from the election management computer, Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV reported.
Jack Sellers, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chairman, quickly released a statement refuting the claims, and accused the firm hired by the Senate to conduct the audit, Sarasota, Florida-based CyberNinjas, as “in over their heads.”
Critics of CyberNinjas note the firm has little experience in conducting election audits and members of the firm have made partisan statements. Dominion Voting Systems, contracted by the county to conduct the election, also has blasted the company, claiming it is not certified by the federal Election Assistance Service and that it has “demonstrated incompetence.”
Since the election, no evidence has surfaced suggesting the voting software was manipulated in Arizona or elsewhere. Arizona auditors appear to be focused on missing and potentially fraudulent mail-in ballots.
Besides Richer’s statement, the county board of supervisors met on Monday and declared they would not comply with the Senate’s demands.
“This board is done explaining anything,” Sellers said after a special meeting of the five-member board “People’s ballots and money are not make-believe. It’s time to be done with this craziness, and get on with this county’s critical business.”
A poll by HighGround Inc., an Arizona public affairs firm, found that 78% of Arizona Republicans believe fraud was a factor in Biden’s victory, a figure backed up by other national polls showing strong GOP support for such claims.