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Maricopa County Won't Reuse Voting Equipment Subpoenaed By Senate Republicans For Audit

Maricopa County election officials will replace all voting equipment subpoenaed by the Arizona Senate as part of a GOP-led review of the 2020 election results.

The announcement comes one month after  Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told county officials she had “grave concerns” the equipment may have been compromised by private firms the Senate hired to conduct its audit, such as Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity company with no previous election-related experience.

In response, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel wrote that the county Board of Supervisors shares Hobbs’ concerns.

“[The board] also recognizes your authority as Arizona’s Chief Election Officer to determine what equipment is acceptable for use in Arizona’s elections. … Accordingly, I write to notify you that Maricopa County will not use the subpoenaed election equipment in any future election,” Adel wrote.

As secretary of State, it is Hobbs’ duty to certify which equipment may be used in elections across the state. If Maricopa County had tried to get the equipment recertified, Hobbs made clear she would stonewall that effort. 

Critics say  Cyber Ninjas is unqualified to review the 2020 election. The company’s CEO, Doug Logan, spread conspiracies about the election on social media and authored a document for elected officials that promoted debunked election fraud theories. Over the weekend,  Logan also appeared in a conspiracy-laden film that claims to show the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

In a statement accompanying Adel’s letter, county officials wrote that voters “can rest assured, the county will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections.”

It’s unclear how much it will cost to replace voting equipment and systems swept up in the Senate’s audit. 

Most, but not all, equipment the county leases from Dominion Voting Systems to run municipal and county-wide elections was subpoenaed by GOP Senate President Karen Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen. That includes 385 precinct-based ballot tabulators that have yet to be returned to the county, as well as the county’s main vote-counting systems. 

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a three-year, $6.1 million contract to lease the equipment in June 2019. The contract began Aug. 1 that year, and it’s unclear how much of the contract has been paid to date, nearly two years after it began. A spokesman for the county said the replacement cost is still unknown.

Whatever the cost, it won’t all fall on Maricopa County taxpayers. 

Before Maricopa County officials turned over subpoenaed ballots and voting equipment, Fann signed an agreement indemnifying the county from expenses that occur as a result of the election review. The agreement covers equipment that’s “damaged, altered or otherwise compromised while in the Senate’s custody and control,” and specifies there’s no limit to the expense the county can claim “associated with procuring new equipment.”

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.