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Maricopa County Demands Senate Pay For Replaced Voting Equipment

Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2021 - 12:30pm
Updated: Thursday, August 19, 2021 - 7:16am

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors took the first step toward forcing the Arizona Senate to pay for the county’s new voting machines.

The county spent $2.8 million replacing election equipment that was subpoenaed by Republican leaders in the Senate, then turned over to uncertified vendors for a review of the county’s 2020 election results.

On Wednesday, supervisors voted unanimously to file a notice of claim with the Senate demanding payment to cover that cost. Senate leaders have 60 days to respond. If the Senate doesn’t reply or dismisses the request, Maricopa County can then file a lawsuit to pursue the $2.8 million.

Most, but not all, equipment the county leases from Dominion Voting Systems to run municipal and county-wide elections was subpoenaed by Republican Senate President Karen Fann and Sen. Warren Petersen. That includes 385 precinct-based ballot tabulators, as well as the county’s main vote-counting systems. 

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in May she had “grave concerns” the equipment may have been compromised by Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity firm with no previous election-related experience that Fann hired for the Senate’s review. 

County attorneys later told Hobbs they shared her concerns, and decommissioned the equipment knowing the secretary of state would refuse to recertify it to be used in future elections.

Supervisors said they hoped a lawsuit to recover the $2.8 million, the amount needed to amend Maricopa County’s lease with Dominion Voting Systems, won’t be necessary. 

Before Maricopa County officials turned over subpoenaed ballots and voting equipment, Fann signed an agreement indemnifying the county from expenses stemming from the election review. The agreement covers equipment that’s “damaged, altered or otherwise compromised while in the Senate’s custody and control,” and specifies there’s no limit to the expense the county can claim “associated with procuring new equipment.”

Board Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican, said the notice of claim should come as no surprise given that agreement.

“It’s just part of the process that we unfortunately have to follow,” he said.

Despite signing the indemnification agreement, Fann has expressed skepticism that the equipment needed to be replaced. She called the county’s demand a “publicity stunt.”

“This shows they prefer to shower taxpayer dollars on Dominion and lawyers, rather than have an honest conversation about the audit,” Fann told KJZZ. “Machines were not damaged or tampered with and they know it.”

Even if the Senate paid for the new equipment, taxpayers would still foot the bill — it’d just be taxpayers statewide that contribute to Arizona’s General Fund, not exclusively Maricopa County taxpayers.