Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors opted to lease new voting system tabulators to replace machines examined by auditors hired by the Arizona Senate.
The board, composed of four Republicans and one Democrat, agreed in a meeting to allocate an additional $2.9 million to the contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The contract now totals $9 million. It began in June 2019 and runs through July 2022 and has the county leasing voting equipment from Dominion.
The Canada-based company provides such equipment to 28 states and Puerto Rico.
The company will provide 385 new precinct tabulators, or machines that count ballots at precincts, and 9 new central counters, as well as the hardware required to run them.
“The ‘Subpoenaed Equipment’ will no longer be used by the county and the county is authorizing the contractor to remove, inspect and properly dispose of the ‘Subpoenaed Equipment,'” the amendment states. “The county will acquire new voting system components to replace the Subpoenaed Equipment pursuant to the existing lease terms of the Agreement.”
Board Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, said needing to spend more money on the contract was frustrating but necessary after auditors took custody of the machines.
“The frustrating thing is, those were perfectly good machines which passed all of our accuracy tests from the time we first got them in 2019. The taxpayer paid good money for them, but now this equipment will have to be decommissioned because the Senate didn’t take our warnings about chain-of-custody seriously,” Sellers said in a statement. “When Senate leadership chose novices to conduct their audit rather than reputable, certified companies, they wasted an expensive investment that had served Maricopa County voters well in 2019 and 2020.”
The Arizona Senate hired Cyber Ninjas to oversee the audit. That choice has been criticized by board members and other audit opponents, who point to the company’s lack of experience on election reviews. Cyber Ninjas and senators have said the companies involved in the audit are committed to a fair process and include companies with audit experience.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, in May urged the county to get new machines because of concerns “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.”
The county announced last month that it would replace the machines, citing the same concerns.
The Arizona Senate proposed auditing the ballots and equipment while they were in the county’s possession but the county refused, forcing audit teams to conduct the review in buildings on the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix.
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, said the machines were not tampered with during the audit.
“If their experts can’t prove the machines have not been tampered with, then how does the [Secretary of State’s office] or County Elections certify the machines before every audit to make sure the machines haven’t been tampered with?” she asked in June.
The vote came a day after Fann said auditors’ ballot count ended with a different number than the county. The state Senate is conducting its own count this week on machines it obtained expressly for the purpose.
The third number will be used against the other two figures, Ken Bennett, a former Republican Arizona Secretary of State who is serving as the body’s audit liaison, told The Epoch Times.
Auditors plan to finish their report on the audit in August.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.