OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Phoenix, Arizona, voted unanimously to approve an independent forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment to ensure public confidence that the 2020 presidential election was conducted fairly in the county, a draft of the board’s plan showed.
A meeting was held on Wednesday to vote on whether to audit the county’s election machines independently following allegations by allies of former President Donald Trump that there were acts of vote-switching in favor of President Biden during the November election.
Members of the board rebuked claims of fraud in the county during the election but added that they seek to reaffirm trust in the system as many constituents in the county still raise questions about the process.
“We trust the process, but we take many steps always, day after day, to verify we are doing the right thing, and this is just part of the process this board is known for,” Clint Hickman, supervisor for District 4, said Wednesday.
Trump lost Maricopa County in November after falling short by about 45,000 votes, and an early hand-count ballot sample audit from November indicated there were no discrepancies in the data.
Trump lost Arizona to Biden by about 10,000 votes.
One firm will begin auditing the county’s election next week, and a second firm will begin its audit the following week.
Audits are expected to continue into February and March, according to the board’s plan.
The audit will be carried by separate firms and will ensure the county’s software is up to federal and state standards, will examine for malware and ensure tabulation equipment was not connected to the internet during the general election and will conduct accuracy tests of tabulation equipment.
“It’s clear there are still questions out there in the community,” said Bill Gates, supervisor for District 3. “I’m thrilled the audit is focused on the machines. We’ve heard a lot of talk about the machines.”
Eddie Farnsworth, GOP chairman of the Arizona Senate’s Judiciary Committee, subpoenaed Maricopa County in December to review ballots and access to voting information after a judge dismissed the eighth lawsuit challenging election results in the county.
A judge declined in late December to enforce the Republican subpoenas, after which Clint Hickman, a county supervisor, insisted that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors was working “to protect voter privacy and the integrity of our elections.”
The GOP kept up the legal fight and even issued new subpoenas after a new legislature was seated, earlier this month.
A judge again refused to force the heavily populated Arizona county to turn over the materials. Instead, Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason, who made the Jan. 13 verdict, implored “senators and county officials” to “sit down and work this out” among themselves.
Thomason gave the two groups a week to reach an agreement before he would ultimately enforce the GOP demands.
Last week, Republican Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann released a statement announcing Arizona Republicans reached a “favorable” agreement with the Maricopa County Board but did not disclose the terms of the agreement.
Following the announcement, the Arizona GOP thanked the Republican-led county board, calling the agreement a win for transparency in the voting process.
Thank you to the Maricopa Board of Supervisors for finally agreeing to #AuditTheVote after a three-month-long, hard-fought battle for transparency! Congratulations to @kelliwardaz @FannKfann @FarnsworthEddie @votewarren, and others, who continue the fight for #ElectionIntegrity.
— Arizona Republican Party (@AZGOP) January 20, 2021