Update: This article will be updated as the hearing progresses.
A report from auditors who reviewed Arizona’s most populous county’s 2020 election results confirmed that President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump but said there were numerous errors, adding that local election officials refused to comply with their investigation.
Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company, carried out the review of Maricopa County, Arizona, earlier this year at the behest of the Republican-led Senate.
A draft of the report, obtained by The Epoch Times, was circulated to members of the media on Thursday. Cyber Ninjas others are in the process of revealing the audit’s findings during an Arizona state Senate hearing on Friday afternoon.
Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, acknowledged the validity of the Cyber Ninja draft audit and said the results of the hand count audit were similar to the original election results. But she stressed that statutes were broken and the chain of command wasn’t followed.
The final audit report is slightly different from the leaked draft reports, Fann said, but the final report shows that it was within a “few hundred” votes of the official Maricopa County tally. The report, she added, revealed “issues” with the election system in the state.
“I’m very disappointed to see that Maricopa County refused to cooperate with us,” Fann also said. “Not only did they not cooperate with us, they even went so far as to sue us.
She added: “What you have not seen and not heard is about the statutes that were broken, how chain of custody was not followed, how we had a number of issues, which is why people questioned the ballots and the election. So I ask that you please keep an open mind, I ask that you please listen to this, because the reality of this is that this is all about making sure your vote counts.”
Auditors were critical of Maricopa County’s record-keeping and alleged there were problems with its election systems, proposing reforms to processes, the draft report said. The contractors further said that Maricopa officials were not entirely cooperative and said their actions prevented a total audit of the election results from being carried out.
— AZSenateRepublicans (@AZSenateGOP) September 24, 2021
The report also made reference to tens of thousands of ballots that Cyber Ninjas said it could not fully verify, noting inconsistencies with Maricopa County’s voter registrations when it was compared to a commercial data firm’s records. Cyber Ninjas said, however, that the discrepancies do not necessarily mean that the votes were improperly cast during last year’s election, while calling on Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate.
“Had Maricopa County chosen to cooperate with the audit, the majority of these obstacles would have easily been overcome. By the County withholding subpoena items, their unwillingness to answer questions as is normal between auditor and auditee, and in some cases actively interfering with audit research, the County prevented a complete audit,” the Cyber Ninjas draft’s executive summary said.
But overall, according to the draft, “What has been found is both encouraging and alarming. On the positive side, there were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official canvass results for the County.”
The Maricopa County government, which has been embroiled in a legal tug-of-war with the Senate, wrote on Twitter that a draft report of the audit “confirms the county’s canvass of the 2020 General Election was accurate and the candidates certified as the winners did.” Maricopa officials, in another statement, also disputed Cyber Ninjas’ claim that they didn’t comply with their investigation and alleged the firm lacked the auditing experience to undertake such an effort.
“This means the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement on Friday. “That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise.”
A spokesman for the audit, Randy Pullen, confirmed the draft’s authenticity to KJZZ-TV, saying that the data and conclusions are similar to the final report.
Legacy media outlets, in their reporting on the draft report on Thursday, struck a gloating tone. 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 has aspirations to become Arizona’s 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 Friday’s 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 Friday afternoon by the state Senate, Trump said the audit uncovered “significant and undeniable” fraud in the 2020 presidential election and dismissed findings that Biden gained votes in Maricopa County.
“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.”
The audit, Trump added, “has uncovered significant and undeniable evidence of fraud,” according to the statement. “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 all of those states in 2016.
The Epoch Times will update this report when the final draft of the audit is released.
Maricopa County hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
September 24, 2021 8:28 pm