Senate President Reaffirms That Election Audit Is About Ensuring Integrity Of Future Elections

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann

By Terri Jo Neff

After months of being spoken for by attorneys or just typing brief comments on Twitter, the two state senators at the heart of the legislative audit into Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election were finally front and center Tuesday during a livestreamed status meeting.

Senate President Karen Fann had hoped various Maricopa County officials would attend the meeting in order to address several questions put forth earlier this month by Fann on behalf of the audit team. But county officials announced they would not accept Fann’s invitation to meet in person and instead answered some of the questions via a letter on Monday.

In an effort to not let the scheduled meeting time go to waste, Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen of the Senate Judiciary Committee were joined by three top audit officials to hear how audit activities are going and what concerns have been identified so far. But first, Fann provided an opening statement downplaying talk of rampant fraud with Maricopa County’s election.


After months of being spoken for by attorneys or just typing brief comments on Twitter, the two state senators at the heart of the legislative audit into Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election were finally front and center Tuesday during a livestreamed status meeting.

“I have said from the get-go I’m relatively sure we’re not going to find anything of any magnitude that would imply that any intentional wrongdoing was going [on]; I believe that we were going to find what we’ve known all along in some of the things is that we could probably do a little better job with chain of custody and all the things we’ve talked about,” said Fann.

In January, Fann co-signed a legislative subpoena with Petersen which demanded the county turn over its voting systems, elections records, and nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in last fall’s election. She said again Tuesday the purpose of the audit “has nothing to do with overturning the election or decertifying electors or anything else.”

Instead, she said, lawmakers must ensure Arizona’s elections are done “properly, accurately, safely, with full election integrity.”

Conversation between officials with the Senate and Maricopa County about the 2020 General Election began shortly after polls closed on Nov. 3. There was an initial subpoena issued in December which was replaced with one in January.

Once the second subpoena was issued, “it has nothing but delays, delays, delays,” Fann recounted during the meeting, noting Maricopa County’s decision to sue the Senate in an effort to quash the subpoena.

County officials lost that challenge in February and eventually delivered 385 tabulator machines, several other voting equipment, and 1,681 boxes of ballots on 46 pallets to Veterans Memorial Coliseum last month. Missing from the county’s delivery are two items which Doug Logan, the CEO of audit contractor Cyber Ninjas said are necessary to complete the audit.

The first is the administrative access code or password to the Dominion Voting Systems ballot tabulator machines. In Monday’s letter, Board Chair Jack Sellers informed Fann that county officials do not have the access code. “We do not have it; we have no legal right to acquire it; and so, we cannot give it to you,” the letter states.

The second missing item is the election department’s computer routers which would show the department’s internet activity before and during the election. Earlier this month, Sellers announced neither the routers nor virtual images of the routers would be released, citing concerns by Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone that allowing outsiders access to the routers could put law enforcement officials at risk.

Among other questions raised by Fann in her letter to Maricopa County included concern that ballots were not in sealed bags nor in boxes secured with tamper-resistant tape when turned over to the audit team. Another concern was that a review of computer data files appeared to show one elections database had been deleted and another was missing.

Logan told Fann on Tuesday that upon further review there was no problem with how the ballots were packaged by the county. And CyFIR CEO Ben Cotton said during the meeting he has located the files that were previously the subject of concern.

The audit team’s hand count of the 2.1 million ballots is scheduled to resume May 24 at the Coliseum. Fann has not been shy about floating the idea of issuing new subpoenas in an effort to ensure auditors have all information needed to conduct a full review of how Maricopa County conducted the election.