Maricopa County seeks $2.8 million for damages from GOP-led election 'audit'

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The Republican-driven audit of Arizona's 2020 election results compromised hundreds of vote tabulators — and the state Senate may now be on the hook for millions to replace them.

The Maricopa County Board on Wednesday unanimously voted to seek $2.8 million in damages from the Republican members of the state Senate, local reporter Brahm Resnik reported, a figure that amounts to the replacement cost of hundreds of vote tabulation machines and other voting equipment that was compromised by the audit.

In a Wednesday letter sent to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a lawyer for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said that the board is filing claims "against the Arizona Senate as a result of its election equipment being rendered unusable for Arizona elections because it was compromised by the Senate's vendors, and also as a result of costs the County incurred complying with the Senate's subpoenas."

Fann had signed an indemnification agreement with the county ahead of the audit, saying that the state Senate would be responsible for "any and all expenses it incurs as a result of the Subpoenaed Materials being damaged, altered, or otherwise compromised while in the Senate's custody and control, including without limitation expenses associated with procuring new equipment ... for use for elections in Arizona."

And the county did incur millions in costs, with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors determining that the shoddy practices of Cyber Ninjas — the firm Fann hired to conduct the audit — rendered 385 vote tabulators and other equipment unusable. The Board voted to purchase new equipment from Dominion Voting Systems at the cost of more than $2.8 million.

"The County incurred costs as a result of its election equipment being compromised while in the control of the Senate. Specifically, and as explained more fully below, the Senate allowed unqualified persons to handle, examine, and manipulate the County’s election equipment in ways that compromised it and rendered it unfit to be used in future elections," reads the letter from Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. "As a result, the County has had to replace the subpoenaed election equipment at a cost to the County of $2,833,220.00. These costs are directly recoverable from the Senate pursuant to the Covenant of Indemnification."

Fann slammed Maricopa County for seeking damages from the GOP state Senate, calling it "Yet another publicity stunt," according to a statement obtained by Resnik.

The move is the latest setback for Republicans and the Arizona audit, which experts have panned for not following proper processes or laws. Others have said it was merely an effort to prove former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud to explain away his 2020 loss. Observers of the audit witnessed auditors leaving ballots unsecured and using blue and black pens that were banned from being used around ballots, as blue and black ink can alter ballots.

Others have said it was merely an effort to prove former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud to explain away his 2020 loss. Some of those involved in the audit were overt supporters of Trump — with at least one seen at the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The problems led GOP state Sen. Paul Boyer, who initially backed the audit, to pan the effort, saying it is making Republicans "look like idiots."

While the count of the ballots from the 2020 election is complete, the auditors have yet to release their report.

Congress' House Oversight Committee is currently probing whether the audit was merely an "effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.