GOP-led election 'audit' to cost Arizona nearly $3 million in destroyed equipment

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Maricopa County needs to replace hundreds of voting machines that were tainted by the partisan 'audit' being led by Arizona Republicans.

The official cost of replacing voting machines that were damaged during the GOP-led "audit" of Arizona's 2020 election results could officially set the state back $2.8 million, local Arizona reporter Garrett Archer reported on Tuesday.

Archer reported that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is set to vote Wednesday on a contract with Dominion Voting Systems to replace hundreds of vote tabulators, servers, and other equipment that the county has determined is no longer usable after the audit process.

The county made that determination after Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said she feared that the audit compromised the machines, as the company running the count, Cyber Ninjas, was not following proper protocol.

It's unclear whether the county will incur the costs, or whether the GOP members of state Senate — who forced the audit in the first place — will pay for the replacement costs.

Before the audit began, GOP state Senate President Karen Fann signed an indemnification agreement with the county, saying that the Republicans who pushed for the audit — and not the county itself — would be responsible for the costs incurred from the process.

According to the contract the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on on Wednesday, the bulk of the cost — or more than $1.7 million — is for 385 vote tabulators that the auditors tainted.

It's the latest embarrassment for the audit, which has now dragged on for 12 weeks.

Election experts say the company Fann hired — Cyber Ninjas — had no election experience and was not following protocol in its count.

Observers witnessed ballots being left unsecured, auditors were seen using pens that are banned from being used around ballots, and some of those involved in the count were overt Trump supporters — some of whom were even seen at the rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Cyber Ninjas is run by Doug Logan, a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist who pushed voter fraud lies and was part of the effort to overturn Trump's loss.

The Department of Justice has also expressed concern that the entire endeavor is a violation of federal voting laws, and some Republicans have even come out against it.

It's unclear when the audit will officially conclude.

Fann told a local radio show host on Tuesday that the count the auditors came up with was different than the county's — something election officials were expecting because the auditors did not follow procedures.

In June, observers from Hobbs' office witnessed miscounts in real time.

According to the website Hobbs created to track problems with the audit, "observers witnessed participants at a Quality Control Tally table count 24 ballots, which conflicted with another count, which showed 25 ballots. In a credible audit, the batch would have been recounted. Instead, the table manager said she thought she found the 25th ballot stuck to another ballot and proceeded without recounting the batch."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.