Sep 27, 2022 - Politics

A year after Arizona's audit of the 2020 election, questions linger

Three men sitting at a table.

From left, Ben Cotton, Doug Logan and Randy Pullen in the Arizona Senate in 2021. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

It's been one year since the team behind the so-called audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County presented its largely debunked findings in the state Senate.

Flashback: Senate President Karen Fann ordered a review of the election in response to baseless but widespread allegations that it was rigged against Donald Trump.

  • She hired the now-defunct Florida company Cyber Ninjas, which had little election experience and whose CEO tried to undermine the 2020 election results.

What they found: The "audit" made dozens of allegations of problems with the 2020 election.

  • Yes, but: Maricopa County issued a detailed rebuttal in January, finding that 74 of the 75 findings were exaggerated, misleading or outright false.
  • In many instances, the county said the audit team made glaring mistakes because it didn't understand election policies and procedures.

Why it matters: The findings sowed additional doubt about an election that was already the subject of a number of conspiracy theories and false claims, and gave momentum to politicians and candidates who promoted those allegations.

The intrigue: Bill Gates, the Republican chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and a defender of the county's handling of the election, said he finds it concerning that legislators could enact new election laws based on the audit's erroneous findings.

Between the lines: Gates and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said they believed the audit helped propel election deniers in this year's GOP primary.

  • Richer was not in office during the 2020 election but has defended the county's handling of it.
  • Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who served as the liaison between the Senate and the audit team, characterized the audit team's conclusions as "questions" and "concerns" rather than as definitive findings.

What they're saying: Fann and former Cyber Ninjas head Doug Logan, who led the audit team, have never publicly responded to the county's rebuttal. Logan did not return a message from Axios.

  • Fann referred the audit's findings to the Attorney General's Office, which tells Axios that the investigation is ongoing but wouldn't comment on when it might be completed.

Meanwhile: Since the audit concluded, criminal investigations have tied Logan to alleged illegal breaches of election equipment in Georgia and Michigan.

Of note: The audit team's hand count of all 2.1 million ballots cast in the county concluded that President Biden not only won the county, but that he won by more votes than the official canvass recorded, which was 10,457.


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