Arizona’s top election official on Thursday urged the state’s most populous county to replace hundreds of voting machines that have been examined as part of a November-supported state election review .
The petition added fuel to the charges of impartial election observers and voting rights advocates that the review, ordered in December by Republicans controlling the state Senate, had become a political farce.
In a letter to Maricopa County officials, which includes Phoenix, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said it was unclear whether the companies hired to conduct the review had sufficiently safeguarded the equipment against tampering during the review of votes.
Ms. Hobbs, a Democrat, recommended that the county replace its 385 voting machines and nine voting tabs because “the lack of physical security and transparency means we can’t be sure who accessed the voting equipment and what it could have been done to them “.
The notice, in a letter to the county supervisory board, did not state that the machines had been breached. But Ms Hobbs wrote that she had “serious concerns about the safety and integrity of these machines, as the chain of custody, a critical safety principle, has been compromised.”
He added that he had first consulted experts from the Federal Security and Cybersecurity Agency, the national authority for electoral security issues.
A county election department spokeswoman said county officials “will not use any of the returned tab equipment unless the county, state and vendor are confident that no malicious hardware or software is installed.” to devices “.
If the county decides to undo the machines, it is unclear who would be responsible for paying to replace them. The state Senate agreed to compensate the county for financial losses from the audit.
State Senate Republicans who ordered the election review said they wanted to reassure ardent sponsors of former President Donald J. Trump who refused to accept his narrow loss to Arizona. The review focused on Maricopa County, which produced two-thirds of the votes statewide.
Trump has stated that the audit would confirm his claims that his election loss was due to fraud, a charge that virtually all election experts reject. Without a formal electoral authority, the review could not change the results in Arizona.
The audit was bombarded with partisan bias charges after the state Senate hired a company to handle the review, the top executive of which had spread unfounded allegations that Trump’s loss to the state was a result of a fraud. Criticism has only increased after election observers and supporters of non-partisan elections documented repeated flaws in the review process for the ballot box.