A draft report on the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, which was due Monday, was delayed after members of the cyber security firm hired to conduct the audit got sick with COVID-19.
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) said Monday that only "a portion of the draft report" would be delivered on time because three members of the Cyber Ninjas audit team hired by the Senate had come down with COVID-19 and are "quite sick." She even suggested that some of the auditors were hospitalized.
"Today we are receiving a portion of the draft report from the election audit analysis team," she said in a statement. "The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick."
Fann also indicated that the draft report may be further delayed because the Senate only just received images of the ballot envelopes from Maricopa County last Thursday, and those images will need to be analyzed "as soon as possible to incorporate those results in the final report."
The Senate will begin reviewing a portion of the draft report on Wednesday.
The audit report is highly anticipated by former President Donald Trump and supporters who believe his claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Despite no irregularities found in other reviews of Maricopa County's 2020 election, they hope that yet another audit of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County will show that President Joe Biden's 45,000 vote margin of victory there was illegitimate and serve as reason for other contested states to audit their elections.
Trump lost Arizona by roughly 10,000 votes overall.
The current audit effort has faced intense criticism from Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, as well as Republican officials in Maricopa county and independent election experts. These critics say the audit process has been too secretive and frequently point out that Cyber Ninjas has no previous election administration or auditing experience.
Last week, Hobbs, who is running for governor, released a 122-page report accusing the audit of "security lapses, delays, disorganization, and lack of transparency." She pre-emptively argued that the findings of the report, which have not yet been released, are "invalid and unreliable" and said that the auditors "demonstrated a lack of understanding of election processes and procedures at both the state and county level.
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who supported Trump in the 2020 election, separately sent an open letter to state Republicans criticizing the audit effort. Citing multiple sources, providing extensive footnotes, and painstakingly walking through the election process step by step, Richer argued that the election in Maricopa County was not stolen or rigged.
"Maricopa County has used the same tabulation vendor and ballot printer, and has had many of the same employees, for more than 20 years. This team oversaw Maricopa County's vote for Trump in 2016, for Mitt Romney in 2012, for John McCain in 2008, and for George W. Bush in 2004. It administered the election of the continued Republican control of the Arizona state legislature in 2020. Through all these elections, there had never been a report of significant tabulation problems or widespread fraud," he wrote.
"After the November 2020 election, appointees from the Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian parties worked in bipartisan groups of three to hand count more than 47,000 votes. ... Those hand-counted votes matched the machine count 100%. The County then ran another, post-election, logic and accuracy test to make sure the machines had not been disrupted in any manner during the election. The results again matched 100%.
"Finally, in February 2021, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors hired two professional elections technology companies with many years of experience in tabulation equipment to do everything needed to do. The assessment took almost three weeks. We livestreamed the entire process, and we had representatives from the Arizona House, the Arizona Senate, and the Secretary of State's Office in regular attendance. ... The auditors found no problems with the equipment, no manipulation of the software code, no malware, and no connection to the internet. Those reports are publicly available."
Once Cyber Ninjas submits the full draft report, Fann said the Senate will review it for "accuracy, clarity, and proof of documentation" before turning it over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will release its findings to the public.