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Another report confirms Maricopa County election equipment wasn't connected to the internet

Yet another investigation has confirmed what Maricopa County officials have said since the conclusion of the 2020 election — the county’s vote-counting equipment was never connected to the internet.

The report from former Congressman John Shadegg and a team of experts found “no evidence” that equipment at the county’s ballot tabulation center — where votes are counted — were “connected to the public internet.”

More to the point, Shadegg’s investigation found “there are no routers or managed switches or Splunk logs in the BTC” — the very equipment that Senate Republicans sought to assess whether the county’s equipment was connected to the internet, and perhaps susceptible to a scheme to alter votes.

The report should come as no surprise.

In January 2021, Maricopa County officials voted unanimously to hire two federally certified companies to inspect its election equipment and debunk claims that Arizona’s election could have been stolen or fraudulent. The results of those investigations, released exactly 13 months ago, confirmed that equipment was never tampered with or modified, and was designed with air gaps to ensure it could not connect to the internet.

Republican Senate leaders refused to acknowledge the work of two firms certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and went on to subpoena Maricopa County ballots and voting equipment and hire their own team of inexperienced contractors – headlined by the Florida-based Cyber Ninjas – to conduct an election review and recount of nearly 2.1 million ballots.

That so-called audit confirmed President Biden did receive more votes in Maricopa County than former President Donald Trump. But the Senate’s contractors also claimed they couldn’t verify the county’s equipment was never connected to the internet, in addition to raising concerns about a host of “anomalies” that have long since been debunked by the county.

Maricopa County, which refused to hand over computer routers to the Senate’s contractors, later reached an agreement with Senate Republicans to hire Shadegg and further review the county’s networking equipment. 

Shadegg’s report also concluded that no evidence that data had been deleted, purged or overwritten from any of the county’s networking devices, “or other destruction of evidence or obstruction of the audit.” Top Senate Republicans have claimed the county purposefully disrupted their election review, and its contractors made false claims that materials were deleted at various points throughout 2021.

In a statement, county board Chairman Bill Gates said Shadegg’s work “should be a final stake in the heart of the Senate’s so-called ‘audit.’”

“Whenever impartial, independent, and competent people have examined the County's election practices, they have found no reason to doubt the integrity of those practices,” Gates said.

Through a spokeswoman, Republican Senate President Karen Fann said she had not yet read Shadegg’s report and declined to comment.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.