(washingtonexaminer) – The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors made a compromise with the Republican-led Arizona Senate on Friday to provide router information being sought as part of a sweeping audit of the 2020 general election.
In a 4-1 vote, the board said it would establish a “special master” to take questions from contractors who are part of the firms Cyber Ninjas and CyFir, providing them with the information contained on the routers they say they need to finish a comprehensive forensic audit report.
“At all times, the routers will remain in production and in the custody of Maricopa County,” a communications official for the county told the Washington Examiner. “The agreement is structured in a way that ensures no personal identifying information or sensitive law enforcement or court-related information is revealed.”
However, confusion ensued after Senate President Karen Fann appeared to contradict the county’s statement on its decision, claiming that the contractors “got everything we need including the routers and more.”
Fann also said the county “agreed to drop its notice of claim of $2.8 million to replace election equipment delivered to the Senate,” arguing there was no damage done to election machines by auditors and that they were improperly decertified by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
The county’s decision brings an end to a legal dispute brought forth by the Senate after subpoenas were previously filed to obtain the router images. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich began investigating the county’s noncompliance in August and threatened to withhold nearly $700 million in shared state tax funding if officials failed to provide what the Senate was requesting.
“This agreement is a step in the right direction to putting this nonsense behind us,” said Chairman Jack Sellers of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “The Cyber Ninjas will never be able to touch the routers or access our data. An independent third party can confirm what we’ve always said: The election equipment was not connected to the internet, and no vote switching occurred.”
Senate contractors managing the audit process have been pushing for months to gain access to Maricopa County’s router images to analyze them for any security flaws despite county officials saying they were not connected to the internet on the night of the elections on Nov. 3, 2020.
Maricopa County local law enforcement officials contended the sharing of routers could place sensitive police department information at risk if the router information wound up in the wrong hands.
Stephen Richer , the county’s recorder, released a statement earlier this week noting that a website had published some voter information records without authorization and tapped Brnovich to investigate the “potentially illegal” matter.
Friday marks a win for the Senate, which will now gain access to the information it claims to need in order to finish the audit report, which will be released next week.
It was not immediately clear whether the sudden decision to provide router information would cause a delay in the final release of the report. Fann reaffirmed after the compromise was reached, however, that the “report comes out Friday.”
President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Arizona by more than 10,000 votes in 2020. Biden edged out Trump by 45,000 votes in Maricopa County, where the former president and other Republicans in the state have alleged fraud despite denials from election officials.
The audit has been subject to intense criticism by county officials, including Hobbs , who called it a “political stunt” meant to cast doubt on election integrity. Although Trump and his allies have championed the audit as a means to prove his allegations of widespread fraud, Fann insisted the audit is meant to “restore trust in the system and influence potential changes to the law.”