Thanks, 'Cyber Ninjas'! Maricopa County Has To Trash Tainted Voting Equipment Now
After a private company run by a conspiracy theorist got its uncertified paws all over the ballots and election equipment from Maricopa County, Arizona, in last fall's election, the county announced Monday that it will not reuse any of the equipment in future elections. The Arizona state Senate subpoenaed the equipment to be "audited" by volunteers working with the Trumphumping "Cyber Ninjas" firm, despite warnings from Maricopa County officials that this exact thing might happen.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs warned Maricopa County in May that because the equipment had been out of the custody of election officials during the fraudit, there was no way to guarantee it hadn't been tampered with. The Arizona Republic reports that Maricopa County officials wrote to Hobbs June 28 to say they agreed, because the certifiable dinguses doing the audit "are not certified to handle election equipment in the United States." OK, but how about in Russia?
So how much will all this cost, and who has to pay for the ruined machines? The Republic notes that Maricopa is "about half way through a $6.1 million lease with Dominion Voting Systems" for the equipment. It's not clear just yet whether the county will need to pay the remaining balance, or whether the cost will be borne by the county or by the state.
As we noted back in May when Hobbs said the equipment would have to be decertified, the county had an indemnification agreement with the Senate that should mean the state would have to cover any damage or replacement costs to the equipment — nine big vote tabulation machines used at county elections offices, another 385 vote-counting machines used at precincts, and related servers.
As of Monday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors had not yet decided whether to ask the Senate to pay for replacing the machines, according to county comms director Fields Moseley, whose name seems ideally suited for a county spokesperson.
The county said in a statement Monday it is working with Dominion to replace the subpoenaed equipment so it will be able to serve voters for the November election. County officials are discussing with Dominion the terms for replacing the equipment, Moseley said.
But now, it seems state Senate President Karen Fann isn't so sure about whether the agreement is even valid, because does Maricopa really have to throw away perfectly good equipment simply because it might not be legal to use under state and federal election law? The machines look OK to her! Just look at the circular reasoning here!
Fann said in a statement on Tuesday that the Senate has concerns about the county's decision not to reuse the machines. She said the county used a logic and accuracy test after the election to tell whether the machines were safe to use, and the county can use the same test again after this audit.
"If it can't, their (logic and accuracy) tests are invalid," Fann wrote. "And if their machines can't undergo a forensic audit to verify what happened in an election, then it never should have approved those machines to be used in an election in the first place."
Aha! So if you don't trust the equipment simply because a bunch of uncertified yahoos played around with it (and called that a "forensic audit"), then clearly it was bad to start with and Donald Trump gets to be president again. She also complained that the county clearly didn't even care about security anyway, since it declined the Senate's generous offer to let the uncertified company and its uncertified volunteers come and monkey around with the machines and ballots right there in the county offices.
As we also noted in May, however, Hobbs warned that, once the chain of custody has been broken, there's no good way to prove the machines are trustworthy, even if they seem to pass a basic test. Hobbes wrote that she had consulted with boffins at the Department of Homeland Security on the matter, who agreed that even if the machines aren't actually jammed by bamboo fibers,
no comprehensive methods exist to fully rehabilitate the compromised equipment or provide adequate assurance that they remain safe to use. While the machines could be put through an intensive and costly forensic examination by an accredited, national forensics laboratory, even after such forensic examination, machines are generally not recommissioned given that the forensic analysis cannot be guaranteed to locate all potential problems.
In short, hell no, Maricopa County should not let that Republican bullshit hit the Fann.
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