Arizona lawmakers were told during a Sept. 24 hearing of inconsistencies uncovered during a forensic audit of the 2020 election conducted in the state’s most populous county.
The Maricopa County audit was commissioned by Republicans in the Arizona Senate.
Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, issued a letter on the same day to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich recommending further investigation following the audit’s findings. In the letter, she raised concerns over signature verification on mail-in ballots, the accuracy of voter rolls, the securing of election systems, and the record-keeping of evidence related to the elections.
“I am therefore forwarding the reports for your office’s consideration and, if you find it appropriate, further investigation as part of your ongoing oversight of these issues,” Fann told Brnovich in the letter.
Brnovich, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate, said in a statement, “I will take all necessary actions that are supported by the evidence and where I have legal authority. Arizonans deserve to have their votes accurately counted and protected.”
His office said that its Election Integrity Unit “will thoroughly review the Senate’s information and evidence.” Specific allegations cannot be commented on until the review is complete, the office added.
Fann said at the hearing that the audit had faced unnecessary obstruction from Maricopa County officials, who went to court in a bid to block the audit and subpoenas from the state Senate. While the forensic audit didn’t uncover a significant difference in the total vote tallies—the difference was only hundreds in the final report— evidence was uncovered of numerous other anomalies, including statutes being broken and chain of custody not being followed, Fann added.
Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company hired by the state Senate to conduct the audit, said its review involved more than 1,500 people and a total of over 100,000 hours. While the company said it only found in the recount a vote discrepancy of 994 in the presidential race and 1,167 in a U.S. Senate race, the report highlighted potential issues with a combined total of 53,305 ballots.
Maricopa County on Sept. 24 issued a series of statements on its Twitter page in response to findings laid out in a purported draft audit report of Cyber Ninja’s forensic audit that had been released ahead of the Senate audit hearing.
The draft audit report’s figures didn’t entirely correlate with that of Cyber Ninja’s final report. Fann said at the hearing, “As you know, somebody leaked one of the draft reports out over the last 24-48 hours. It was a draft report, so I can tell you that what’s in that is not entirely what’s in the final report.”
However, some key allegations in the draft report regarding ballots did match that of the final report.
23,344 Mail-In Ballots Voted From Prior Address
According to the Cyber Ninjas’ final report, 23,344 mail-in ballots were received from voters’ previous addresses.
“Mail-in ballots were cast under voter registration IDs for people that may not have received their ballots by mail because they had moved, and no one with the same last name remained at the address. Through extensive data analysis, we have discovered approximately 23,344 votes that may have this condition,” the report states.
Cyber Ninjas noted in its report that if ballots are sent by forwardable mail, that would violate the Arizona Elections Procedures Manual.
“The Senate should consider referring this matter to the Attorney General’s Office for a criminal investigation as to whether the requirements of ARS 16-452(C) have been violated,” the company stated in the report.
Maricopa County refuted the allegation on Sept. 24, saying, “Mail-in ballots are not forwarded to another address.” It also asserted that voting from a previous address “is legal under federal election law,” such as in the case of American military and overseas voters. The county also said it had 20,933 one-time temporary address requests for the 2020 general election.
9,041 More Ballots Returned by Voters Than Sent
Cyber Ninjas found that 9,041 more ballots were returned by voters than were sent to them.
According to the report, “9,041 more ballots show as returned in the EV33 Early Voting Returns File for a single individual who voted by mail than show as sent to that individual within the EV32 Early Voting Sent File.” “In most of these instances, an individual was sent one ballot but had two ballots received on different dates.”
Auditors later noted they were told that some of the discrepancies “could be due to the protected voter list,” but were not able to validate that. Maricopa County released a statement to similar effect.
The county disputed the finding on Twitter, saying the majority of times when there are multiple entries in the EV33 file are when voters “returned a ballot without a signature or with a signature discrepancy,” and in such cases, election staff contacts the voter.
Cyber Ninjas: Voters Potentially Voted in Multiple Counties
Cyber Ninjas noted that some 5,295 ballots were affected by voters who potentially voted in multiple counties.
The company said that it had compared Maricopa County’s list of all its voters who cast a ballot in the election (also referred to as the VM55 Final Voted File) to the equivalent files of the other 14 Arizona counties, to find a total of 5,047 voters with the same first, middle, last name, and birth year, representing some 10,342 votes among all the counties.
“The Ballot Impacted was calculated by the total number of votes (10,342) and subtracting the number of maximum number of potential unique people (5,047). This yielded 5,295,” the report said.
Separately, the company found that the number of ballots tallied in the official Maricopa results was 3,432 more than the total number of people who voted.
“The official result totals do not match the equivalent totals from the Final Voted File (VM55),” Cyber Ninjas said.
Cyber Ninjas said the finding is significant because “the number of individuals who showed up to vote should always match the number of votes cast.” The company recommended that legislation “that would require the Official Canvass to fully reconcile with the Final Voted File” should be considered.
Cyber Ninjas said in another finding that there were 2,592 more duplicate ballots than original ballots sent to duplication—a process for replacing damaged or improperly marked ballots with a new ballot that preserves the voter’s intent.
“This is probably one of the more interesting parts … that we had more duplicates than original ballots,” Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan said in his presentation on Sept. 24. “According to our counts from our audit, we had 26,965 original ballots and we had 29,557 that were duplicate ballots, and those numbers should be the same.
“Based on the numbers received from Maricopa County, we should have had 27,869 of both originals and duplicates and they should have matched up perfectly,” he added.
Other findings of the ballots affected included 2,382 in-person voters who had moved out of Maricopa County, and 2,081 voters who moved out of state during the 29-day period preceding the election. Responding to the findings, the county said it had completed separate spot checks and found “no discrepancies” for either of the figures.
Cyber Ninjas also reported that there were 1,551 votes counted in excess of voters who voted, as well as a slew of other categories of findings that affected a smaller number of ballots, such as 397 mail-in ballots sent without there being a record of them having been sent, 393 ballots that had incomplete names, 282 votes cast by individuals who “were flagged as deceased,” and 198 votes cast by individuals who registered to vote after the Oct. 15 deadline, among other smaller categories.
17,322 Duplicates of Early Voting Ballot Return Envelopes
Shiva Ayyadurai, who was commissioned by the Senate to “check the signatures or lack thereof” on the early voting ballot (EVB) return envelopes, said during the Sept. 24 presentation that the audit “reveals anomalies raising questions on the verifiability of the signature verification process.”
Ayyadurai said that his team was hired only to verify whether the envelopes contained a signature—not whether the actual signature matched that of the voter in question.
Of the 1,929,242 return envelopes provided by the Senate, 17,322 duplicates were found, with some voters having cast the same ballot three to four times, according to Ayyadurai’s report (pdf). He noted that Maricopa’s canvass report, meanwhile, didn’t report any duplicates.
In response to duplicated ballot allegations, Maricopa County wrote on Sept. 24, “Re: duplicated ballots. Every time a voter has a questioned signature or a blank envelope, we work with that voter to cure the signature. That’s our staff doing their job to contact voters with questioned signatures or blank ballots. Only one ballot is counted.”
Among other several key findings, Ayyadurai noted that over 25 percent of the duplicate ballots were received between Nov. 4 and Nov. 9, 2020.
Allegations of Deletions
Auditors stated in their report that “according to the Master File Table (MFT) of the drives, a large number of files on the Election Management System (EMS) Server and HiPro Scanner machines were deleted.”
“These files would have aided in our review and analysis of the election systems as part of the audit,” the report reads. “The deletion of these files significantly slowed down much of the analysis.”
Maricopa denied the allegation in a Twitter post, saying, “Maricopa County strongly denies claims that @maricopavote staff intentionally deleted data.” The county also said it has “backups for all Nov. data & those archives were never subpoenaed.”
While auditors finished the part of the audit that deals with the ballots, they say an evaluation of voting machine equipment is ongoing.
“Because the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Arizona Senate have recently settled their dispute concerning outstanding subpoena items, this portion of the audit is not yet complete,” the Cyber Ninjas’ report states.
Response to Findings
Jack Sellers, chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement in response to the Senate audit hearing, “The Cyber Ninjas’ opinions come from a misuse and misunderstanding of the data provided by the county and are twisted to fit the narrative that something went wrong.”
“Once again, these ‘auditors’ threw out wild, damaging, false claims in the middle of their audit and Senate leadership provided them the platform to present their opinions, suspicions, and faulty conclusions unquestioned and unchallenged. Today’s hearing was irresponsible and dangerous.”
Arizona Democrats, meanwhile, pounced on the auditors’ report.
“The Cyber Ninjas embarrassed Arizona for months, violated voters’ trust, refused transparency, and stuck AZ taxpayers with a multi-million dollar bill. What’d they find? Biden won,” Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who has frequently criticized the audit and is trying to become Arizona’s next governor, wrote on Twitter. “The so-called leaders who allowed and encouraged this need to be held accountable in 2022.”
But Fann has long said that the goal of the audit was to improve Arizona’s election system and wasn’t designed to overturn the results.
“Our No. 1 goal is to make sure those laws are followed,” Fann said during the hearing, adding that there are “a lot of people” with questions about the state’s election integrity. Citing a poll, Fann said that 45 percent of Arizona’s voters had significant distrust in the election system.
Ahead of the official release of the report on Sept. 24 by the state Senate, Trump said the audit uncovered “significant and undeniable” fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“The audit has uncovered significant and undeniable evidence of fraud!” he said in an emailed statement. “I have heard it is far different than that being reported by the fake news media.”
Trump added, “Until we know how and why this happened, our elections will never be secure. This is a major criminal event and should be investigated by the Attorney General immediately.”
Arizona was one of several key swing states, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin, that were certified for Biden during the Nov. 3 election. Trump won those states, with the exception of Nevada, in 2016. According to official results, Biden won Arizona over Trump by a margin of just over 10,000 votes.
Maricopa County officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
Correction: A headline error on Arizona Senate President Karen Fann’s comments has been corrected. The Epoch Times regrets the error.