PHOENIX (AP) – Members of the board of directors overseeing Arizona’s most populous county reached a deal Friday night with the Republican-controlled state Senate that will end a standoff over a Senate request handing over computer routers for use in unprecedented partisan electoral scrutiny.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced that a special master will answer questions from Senate Election Review subcontractors and provide them with the information on the routers they say they need to complete the Senate Election Review. elections.
Supervisor Bill Gates said the deal would protect sensitive information on routers while avoiding a massive penalty to the county if it did not comply.
Gates called the deal a “winner for transparency and it is also a victory for the protection of sensitive data in Maricopa County.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said last month in a ruling that the county must comply with the subpoena issued by Republican Senate Speaker Karen Fann or lose an estimated $ 700 million. annual government funding dollars.
The county agreed to drop a $ 2.8 million claim filed with the Senate after election materials it handed to the auditor was decertified and had to be replaced.
Fann said the county had settled under threat of losing state money and called it “a victory for Arizona’s electoral and taxpayer integrity.” She also said the electoral machines were not damaged and were unduly decertified by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Hobbs said she concluded the machines could no longer be used after consulting with experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and others before making her decision.
Fann had signed documents promising to pay all costs incurred by the county in handing over the vote-counting machines earlier this year. Gates said in July that county taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay to replace decertified machines because of the Senate.
But the deal waives that deal altogether, and the county will pay the costs of the special master and a team of experts it hires for the router to be examined.
Fann said former Congressman John Shadegg, a Republican, will serve as a special master.
“The Senate will finally get answers to questions posed in subpoenas issued to the county months ago,” Fann said in a statement.
The board has four Republicans and one Democrat. Gates and other Republicans have been silent on any criticism of the Senate and have said they hope the deal will end the fight. But Democratic supervisor Steve Gallardo did not hold back; he was the only no to vote on the deal.
“We are dealing with bullies,” Gallardo said. “There is nothing we can do to satisfy any of the Senators (GOP)” continuing the audit.
The review of the 2020 election results was prompted by unsubstantiated claims by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that he only lost to fraud. The county says the election was real and President Joe Biden simply got more votes.
County officials have been reluctant to hand over the routers that connect data across the county, saying there is a serious risk to law enforcement security and other sensitive information.
Brnovich’s threat has put massive financial pressure on the board to hand over the items the Senate needs as it prepares to release the election recount next Friday.
No evidence of fraud has been found in any state after a series of lawsuits by Trump supporters or reviews by election officials.
But Republicans who run the Senate say a deep dive is needed to consider all aspects of the election, and its contractors hand-recounted the 2.1 million ballots, took possession of counting machines, computer servers and huge amounts of data. surrendered by the county under previous assignments.
County officials have confirmed the accuracy of their vote count and external reviews by certified election auditors confirm this. They said the pro-Trump donor-funded Senate vote review was being led by incompetent scammers hired by the Senate.
The company hired by the Senate to oversee the election review, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, has no previous experience in reviewing or auditing elections. Its CEO is Doug Logan, a Trump supporter who has promoted election conspiracy theories.
The Senate and Cyber Ninjas themselves fought in court over whether to turn over election review files to a watchdog group and the Arizona Republic newspaper. The Senate was ordered to publish its files and mainly complied. The State Supreme Court earlier this week lower court rulings confirmed that records held by Cyber Ninjas and other contractors performing the audit should be made public.
The audit which began in April was initially expected to take around 60 days, but there have been repeated delays. More recently, Cyber Ninjas canceled plans to submit its report last month, claiming that several members of its team had contracted COVID-19 and were showing severe symptoms.