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Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Arizona's Republican Senate President Karen Fann's "audit" of the Maricopa County presidential election just cost taxpayers millions of dollars, possibly more than $6 million – not including the cost of the actual "audit."

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has sent Maricopa County a letter (below) expressing her "grave concerns regarding the security and integrity" of the voting machines that are starting to be returned. Secretary Hobbs says "the chain of custody, a critical tenet, has been compromised and election officials do not know what was done to the machines while under Cyber Ninja's control."

Hobbs is warning Maricopa County they must acquire all new machines. According to ABC15's Garrett Archer, the "cost of the equipment in full was about $6 million."

If Maricopa County officials do not act to replace all the equipment that was handed over to Cyber Ninjas under President Fann's direction, Secretary Hobbs says she will "begin the decertification process," meaning the machines legally will not be allowed to be used.

"Replacing the machines would cost the county millions," The Arizona Republic reports, confirming the $6 million figure. "The county leases its voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems under a 3-year, $6.1 million agreement that runs through December 2022. The county pays Dominion monthly under the agreement, so it may still owe about a third of that cost. Add that to the millions that the county would need to spend to lease or buy new machines."

But KJZZ reporter Ben Giles says that Senate President Fann "signed an agreement indemnifying Maricopa County from the cost to procure new equipment." Which means that one way or another, the taxpayers are likely on the hook for the Republicans' "audit."

Cyber Ninjas, the "private contractors hired by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann," the Arizona Republic adds, "had unfettered and unmonitored access to the machines. It's unprecedented for private companies and individuals, other than the machine manufacturers, to have access to government-used voting machines."

Last week Sec. Hobbs reported "observers from my office discovered a WiFi router connected to the 'audit' servers."

"There's no way to ensure that ballot images, vote counts, & perhaps voter data weren't connected to external networks or the internet," she warned.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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