Maricopa Co announces it will no longer use electronic voting machines linked to 2020 controversy

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has announced it would no longer use electronic voting machines that are linked to a controversial post-2020 election ballot audit after Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs worried they could be compromised.

In a letter to Hobbs dated Monday, county attorney Allister Adel informed her of the board’s decision in response to a May 20 letter from the secretary of state expressing “concerns about Maricopa County’s election equipment that was turned over to Senate President Karen Fann and Senator Warren Petersen and their agent, Cyber Ninjas.”

“I have grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given that the chain of custody, a critical security tenet, has been compromised and election officials do not know what was done to the machines while under Cyber Ninjas’ control,” Hobbs wrote after the machines were turned over for the audit of 2.1 million ballots cast in the county during the 2020 election.

State Senate Republicans sought the audit after a multitude of claims that voting processes were altered and ballots were allegedly fabricated in a state President Joe Biden reportedly won after then GOP-nominee Donald Trump carried Arizona handily in 2016.

“Indeed, such loss of custody constitutes a cyber incident to critical infrastructure—an event that could jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of digital information or information systems,” Hobbs wrote.

Continuing, Hobbs said that “after a loss of physical custody and control, no comprehensive methods exist to fully rehabilitate the compromised equipment or provide adequate assurance that they remain safe to use.

“While the machines could be put through an intensive and costly forensic examination by an accredited, national forensics laboratory, even after such forensic examination, machines are generally not recommissioned given that the forensic analysis cannot be guaranteed to locate all potential problems,” she added.

“Considering the potential impact of decommissioning the subpoenaed equipment, including on taxpayer dollars and County operations, my Office did not reach this decision lightly. However, given the circumstances and ongoing concerns regarding the handling and security of the equipment, I believe the County can agree that this is the only path forward to ensure secure and accurate elections in Maricopa County in the future,” Hobbs wrote.

Adel said in his letter that the county commissioners agreed.

“The Board shares your concerns. It also recognizes your authority as Arizona’s Chief Election Officer to determine what equipment is acceptable for use in Arizona’s elections, as provided by” Arizona statutes, Adel wrote.

“Accordingly, I write to notify you that Maricopa County will not use the subpoenaed election equipment in any future election,” Adel concluded.

Local reports noted that the county is about midway through its $6.1 million lease of the balloting machines from Dominion Voting Systems.

Previously Hobbs, as well as other state Democrats, have blasted the audit, which has continued longer than expected, as being based on a faulty premise of a stolen election. They have also said they worry that Republicans could compromise voter data in any quest to uncover fraud.

But state Republicans have pushed back and said the audit is necessary to reassure Arizonans that the 2020 election was on the level and the results can be trusted.

It’s not clear what voting procedures or systems the county will use in upcoming elections.

Jon Dougherty

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