PHOENIX — Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said Friday that Maricopa County officials may be balking at cooperating with an audit of the 2020 election results because they fear what it might turn up.
"I'm beginning to wonder if they're not as confident in their (election) system as they say they are,'' Sen. Fann told Capitol Media Services on Friday of the latest refusal by county supervisors to let Senate-hired auditors review the tallying equipment and hand count the 2.1 million ballots where they are currently located at county election offices.
Her comments come less than 24 hours after the board foreclosed the option of opening up the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center to the outside auditors.
In a letter to the Senate's attorney, Steve Tully who represents the supervisors, said they stand ready to comply with the original subpoena. That required the equipment and ballots to be delivered to the Senate.
"The request to perform any audit, recount or other related activities at MCTEC is beyond the scope of the subpoenas issued,'' Mr. Tully wrote.
Sen. Fann said efforts are underway to find an alternate location.
It's not a simple matter of space. She said the very nature of having actual ballots and counting equipment requires that it be in a place that is both secure 24 hours a day while also having the capability of being monitored by those who want to watch.
And if nothing else, Sen. Fann said it will add to the $150,000 that the Senate has agreed to pay its audit team. All this, she said, could be avoided if the county would just cooperate.
"For the life of me, I cannot figure out what they're so afraid of,'' Sen. Fann said. She said senators simply want to put the issues surrounding the vote to bed.
"If constituents have questions and they want those questions answered, why wouldn't we do this?'' Sen. Fann said. "It makes no sense.''
Mr. Tully said the board remains ready to deliver the ballots and the equipment to the Senate, which is what is in the subpoena.
"Alternatively, the county is willing to discuss delivery of the requested items to the senators' custody at a non-county owned location of the senators' choosing,'' he said.
Jack Sellers, who chairs the board, said it's not like the county is blindly accepting the election results. He said the county conducted "two extensive and independent'' audits of the election in February.
"They showed no evidence of equipment malfunction or foul play,'' Mr. Sellers said in a prepared statement. "These finding, in addition to the hand count audit completed by the political parties and accuracy tests before and after the election, affirm no hacking or vote switching occurred in the 2020 election.''
And he took a swat of his own for the Senate's decision to pursue its own review even after the one done by "certified experts'' hired by the county.
"I hope the auditors hired by the Senate will take great care with your ballots and the election equipment leased with your tax dollars,'' Mr. Sellers said.
All this comes on the heels of the Senate releasing the contract and other documents Sen. Fann has signed with Douglas Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the lead firm hired to conduct the audit.
Questions were raised about that choice after discovery of Twitter posts by Mr. Logan suggesting he already has concluded the election results, at least on the national level, are suspicious.
"The parallels between the statistical analysis of Venezuela and this year's election are astonishing,'' he wrote in a December post, a clear reference to unproven and denied allegations that Dominion Voting Systems, the company that produced the equipment used by Maricopa County, is linked to the family of the deceased former dictator.
Mr. Logan also has shared other posts, including one that said, "With all due respect, if you can't see the blatant cheating, malfeasance and outright voter fraud, then you are ignorant or lying.''
"It was not a mistake to hire him,'' Sen. Fann said.
"We have four great, reputable companies that are involved with this,'' she said, referring to other firms that will work under the control of Cyber Ninjas. "This is being done in the utmost transparency with the most qualified people, with checks, double checks and triple checks to make sure all this is done correctly.''
And what of his Twitter messages, which he deleted but were found through archive searches?
"Just because somebody found some Tweet that's within some archive program that none of us ever would have done it (the search) doesn't mean anything,'' Sen. Fann said. "Is no one allowed to say anything?''
Mr. Logan's qualifications and possible bias aside, the scope of work that Mr. Logan has agreed to do for the Senate shows the firm is starting from the position that something is wrong. And it raises questions about the tactics.
According to the contract, Cyber Ninjas may contact individual voters in at least three precincts, even going to their homes, "to collect information of whether the individual voted in the election.''
In fact, the contract says part of the audit team the Senate hired already "has worked together with a number of individuals'' — who are not identified in the contract — who knocked on doors "to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address.''
Mr. Logan did not immediately respond to calls seeking more information. But Sen. Fann said the moves make sense.
"There were a lot of people that filled out affidavits saying that 'I got 25 ballots at my house and there's only two of us that live here,''' Sen. Fann said. And there also was a report of 75 ballots sent to a vacant lot in Tucson.
"They're going to take those affidavits and they're going to go to those people and they're going to say, 'You signed an affidavit that said that this happened. Is this true? Give us a little information so we can verify this and track it down,' '' she said.
But not all those contacts will be based on affidavits. The audit team is going to be contacting voters in person to look for inconsistencies.
For example, Sen. Fann said, historical records may show a given precinct has never had more than a 35% turnout.
"And all of a sudden they had a 90% voter turnout,'' she said. Sen. Fann acknowledged that this election did produce record turnout for both presidential candidates.
"But the question is, how do you go from 35% to 90%?'' she asked.
Assuming voters talk to auditors at their door, that still leaves the question of what does it prove if those interviews show that 90% of them did not vote. Sen. Fann said that will lead to further investigation.
One possibility, she said, is that not all the ballots cast from that precinct were authentic, though Sen. Fann said it "obviously didn't happen.''
She said it's also possible that ballots from one precinct got mixed with ballots from another one. But that would not change the outcome of the presidential race as it was on all ballots.