Arizona Senate hires firms to recount 2.1 million ballots in state’s biggest county

PHOENIX — Republicans who control the Arizona Senate announced Wednesday they have hired four firms to audit election results and recount all 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s most populous county to ensure that President Joe Biden’s November win was legitimate.

Senate President Karen Fann’s announcement came more than a month after a judge ruled the Senate can access Maricopa County’s ballots, ballot tabulation equipment and other election materials. Fann and Senate Republicans had been pushing to do their own audit of the election results for months, and just two weeks ago confirmed that she also intended to recount ballots in the presidential race.

Recounts are something state law doesn’t allow except in narrow circumstances, but the judge’s ruling said the Senate has oversight powers that allow it to do whatever election review it wants.

The independent audit will be overseen by a firm called Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity company the Senate said focuses on computer application security for financial services and government clients. The other three firms hired to perform the review are Wake Technology Services Inc., CyFIR LLC and Digital Discovery.

In this May 26, 2020, file photo, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, speaks to the media in Phoenix. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin, AP)

CyFIR specializes in computer forensics and cyberattacks, while Wake has performed hand-count audits in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, according to the Senate. No additional background was provided on Digital Discovery, but its website says it focuses on digital forensics.

The Senate did not immediately provide the contracts it signed with the firms or a cost of the effort that were requested by The Associated Press.

Fann has said she wants to prove or disprove so-far unsubstantiated allegations made by backers of former President Donald Trump that fraud or other election malfeasance led to his loss in Arizona and other battleground states.

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Fann has said she wants Maricopa County to assist in the audit, but so far county officials have not said they were willing to help.

The Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors fought the Senate subpoenas and repeatedly said there were no issues with how the election was conducted. Multiple reviews, audits and a hand-count of a sample of ballots back that position.

“Our people need to be assured that the Senate and Maricopa County can work together on this audit, to bring integrity to the election process,” Fann said in a statement. “As Board Chair (Jack) Sellers and County Recorder (Stephen) Richer wrote in the Arizona Republic ‘a democracy cannot survive if its people do not believe elections are free and fair.’ “

That op-ed in the Republic was written in January, when the board was fighting the Senate subpoenas and was preparing to do two additional election audits in an effort to mollify lawmakers.

Last month, the county released the results of two new audits of their equipment that showed no malicious software or incorrect counting equipment and that none of the computers or equipment were connected to the internet.

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