Maricopa County Supervisors Vote To Replace Subpoenaed Election Equipment

Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - 1:17pm

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to spend $2.8 million replacing election equipment subpoenaed by the Arizona Senate, then turned over to uncertified vendors hired by Republican lawmakers for a review of the county’s 2020 election results.

The 5-0 vote approved an amendment to the county’s three-year, $6.1 million contract with Dominion Voting Systems, which leases election equipment to the county. The total cost of the contract is now roughly $9 million.

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

“Our highest priority is conducting secure and accurate elections,” said Chairman Jack Sellers, a Republican. “This amendment ensures we have the equipment to do so moving forward.”

Sellers and other supervisors said their vote was forced by the actions of Fann and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who notified the board in May that she would not recertify any equipment turned over to Cyber Ninjas and other contractors hired for the Senate’s audit. Hobbs wrote she had “grave concerns” the equipment may have been compromised by those firms. 

As secretary of state, it is Hobbs’ duty to certify which equipment may be used in elections across Arizona. If Maricopa County had tried to get the equipment recertified, Hobbs made clear she would stonewall that effort. County attorneys later wrote that they shared Hobbs’ concerns, and agreed to replace the subpoenaed equipment.

Supervisor Steve Gallardo, a Democrat, said while the county’s decision may have been forced in part by Hobbs’ judgment, he defended the secretary for doing “the right thing.”

“It’s not her fault. It is Senate Republicans, Trump loyalists, conspiracy theorists,” Gallardo said. “It is folks that do not have the political backbone to stand up to some of these folks and tell them the truth: Our elections were safe, secure and accurate.”

Critics say Cyber Ninjas is unqualified to review the 2020 election. The company’s CEO, Doug Logan, spread conspiracies about the election on social media and authored a document for elected officials that promoted debunked election fraud theories. Logan also appeared in a conspiracy-laden film that claims to show the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

For now, the county board is covering the additional costs under their contract with Dominion from the county’s general fund. Supervisor Bill Gates, a Republican, made it clear he wants the Senate to foot the bill.

Before Maricopa County officials turned over subpoenaed ballots and voting equipment, Fann signed an agreement indemnifying the county from expenses that occur as a result of 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.”

“I think it is fundamentally unfair for the taxpayers of Maricopa County to be responsible for footing this bill,” Gates said.

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.