Election Board Claims Trump-Backed Audit Turning Arizona Into 'Laughingstock'

The Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona, has signed a letter condemning the ongoing audit of the 2020 election, calling the GOP-led Senate to end a recount they describe as a "sham" that is turning the state into a "laughingstock."

All five members of the board—four Republicans and one Democrat—are demanding that the audit, being carefully watched by Donald Trump and conspiracy theorists who still falsely believe the presidential election was rigged, to end a process they describe as a "spectacle that is harming all of us."

The letter to State Senate President Karen Fann hit out at several "false" and "defamatory" accusations aimed at Maricopa County officials during the taxpayer-funded recount, including that a directory full of databases from the 2020 election cycle was deleted days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit.

Trump shared this false claim on his new website Saturday, claiming "the entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!" and that "seals were broken on the boxes that hold the votes, ballots are missing, and worse."

The ballots from the election more than six months ago have been slowly recounted at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix for the past few weeks. The controversial audit is being conducted by Florida-based consulting firm Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO was found to have pushed conspiracy theories claiming Trump lost the election due to widespread voter fraud.

Earlier in May, one official helping oversee the audit described how they were looking for traces of bamboo fibers because of a conspiracy theory that tens of thousands of ballots were shipped in from East Asia.

"Our state has become a laughingstock," the letter said. "Worse, this 'audit' is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic."

A number of high-profile Trump allies and advocates of the QAnon conspiracy theory, including Steve Bannon and "kraken" attorney Lin Wood, are reported to have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the recount.

Maricopa County has carried out several election audits, all of which state President Joe Biden won the county. Biden won Arizona as a whole in 2020's election by just 0.3 percentage points.

"You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call 'kinematic artifacts' while shining purple lights for effect," the letter states.

"None of these things are done in a serious audit. The result is that the Arizona Senate is held up to ridicule in every corner of the globe and our democracy is imperiled."

The 17-page letter also hits out at a number of other falsehoods and conspiracy theories that have emerged during the audit, including that Maricopa County has refused to provide passwords necessary to access vote tabulation devices.

The Board of Supervisors also demanded that Fann delete a "false and malicious" tweet claiming Maricopa County "spoiled evidence" in the days before providing the server to the Senate.

"Your tweet, which relies on the 'modified date' shown in the screenshot as evidence of wrongdoing, is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors' incompetence," the letter adds. "Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County."

The Board added that they will not be responding to any more inquiries from the auditors in Arizona, nor will they attend a meeting requested by Fann at the Arizona State Capitol on Tuesday to answer questions about "serious problems" that Cyber Ninjas allegedly found at the start of its review.

"We will not be responding to any additional inquiries from your 'auditors.' Their failure to understand basic election processes is an indication you didn't get the best people to perform in your political theater," the letter states. "We have wasted enough County resources. People's tax dollars are real, your 'auditors' are not."

The letter was signed by Republican supervisors Steve Chucri, Bill Gates, Clint Hickman, Jack Sellers and Democrat Steve Gallardo. Republican Recorder of Maricopa County, Stephen Richer and Democratic county sheriff Paul Penzone also signed.

Fann has been contacted for comment.

arizona recount, cyber ninjas
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images