Karen Fann, president of the Arizona state Senate, sat down with The Western Journal last week to discuss the status of the Maricopa County forensic audit that has captured the attention of Americans on both sides of the aisle.
There’s a lot at stake. On July 15, audit leaders presented some preliminary findings which, if true, could potentially overturn the results of the November 2020 election in the state.
But decertifying the election results — while hypothetically possible — isn’t really the goal of the audit; ensuring that our elections are secure going forward is.
Over the course of the interview, it was hard for a viewer not to conclude that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has been working overtime to obstruct the audit. This is quite remarkable when one considers that four board members are Republicans and only one is a Democrat.
Having failed to prevent the forensic audit from happening at all, board members, as well as some state officials, are now trying to attack its integrity.
In late June, the board announced it will replace the voting machines used in the 2020 election after Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a partisan Democrat, raised concerns the auditors may have “tampered” with the existing machines.
Fann told George Upper, editor-in-chief of The Western Journal, that “Maricopa County has intentionally done everything in their power to sabotage [the audit], to withhold information, to be less than honest with the public about this. And so it’s created a huge problem.”
The interview is below:
The county has not complied with state Senate subpoenas and has continued to withhold critical information such as the routers, critical passwords, chain of custody documents and more, according to Fann.
The auditors have learned that the board of supervisors does not have the passwords to its own election machinery.
Fann said election contractor Dominion Voting Systems has them.
“So Maricopa County doesn’t even have control over their election system. Only Dominion has those passwords. They have 24-hour-a-day access to those computers. Come and go as you want.”
Fann continued: “What we have found also is that the password hasn’t been changed in two years and multiple people are sharing the password.”
An individual who worked at the election center told Fann “it was not unusual for somebody to yell across the room, ‘Hey Joe, what was that password again?’ And he would yell it back. That’s not secure.”
Maricopa County would not allow the audit to be conducted at its facility. So the Senate had to rent space at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix and pay steep money for ballot security.
Fann discussed the disorganized condition of the ballots when they arrived at the coliseum: “They are in boxes that are literally just stuffed in there. They’re supposed to be organized. There are supposed to be these pink sheets between that says there’s certain numbers there. They weren’t.”
Upper asked if Maricopa about Fann’s statements that Maricopa County had been “less than honest with the public.”
Fann cited one instance in which a county supervisor she did not name had been warned that subpoenas from state Senate were coming, then told the media he felt “slapped in the face” and that he had “no idea” election-related subpoenas were a possibility.
“That was a flat-out lie,” she said, about the 9:40-mark.
Upper asked Fann to address the issue known as “SharpieGate.” This involved ballots completed with Sharpie markers which often “bled through” the paper, causing many of them to require adjudication.
Last week, an Oct. 22 email surfaced that had been written by Maricopa County Elections Assistant Director Kelly Dixon in which she asks election clerks to provide voters with ballpoint pens from Oct. 23 through Nov. 2. However, she wrote, “We NEED to use [Sharpie] Markers on Election Day.”
Multiple conservative media outlets reported on this new development. Generally, more Republicans than Democrats cast their ballot on Election Day. That trend was expected to be more pronounced in 2020 because Republicans were concerned that an early vote might get lost (or tossed out) in the chaos caused by high numbers of mail-in votes.
At the same time, liberal outlets tried to debunk it. But the email says what it says.
CAUGHT! Maricopa County Elections Worker Kelly Dixon ordered her staff to use ballpoint pens for early voting from 10/23-11/2. They NEED to use markers on Election Day. Why? The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors need to see this and call for a full audit. RT and share! pic.twitter.com/cYbEluxiXV
— Garret Lewis (@GarretLewis) November 18, 2020
At any rate, Fann said the Maricopa County website listed the four types of paper it used for ballot printing. She explained that the paper contained “a titanium seal” to prevent ink from bleeding through.
It became evident that many of the ballots had been printed on thinner paper, likely obtained from a local office supply store rather than the types described on the county’s website.
Fann said this “might explain why there were so many more adjudicated ballots this year than ever.” Although she could not recall the precise percentage of adjudicated ballots in the November election, she believed it was north of 11 percent. (I am unable to find an “average” adjudication rate. My best guess, however, is the average rate would fall between 2 and 3 percent.)
Though both Upper and Fann were extremely careful not to label any of these irregularities as fraud, Upper asked what would come next if some number of votes greater than Biden’s margin of victory (10,457), were called into question.
Fann first made it clear that “this has never been about Donald Trump. This has never been about decertifying the electors. This is about election integrity,” she said, about the 21:45 mark.
“You know for a fact it’s going to go to court. … If we have to go to court, make sure we have everything lined up so we can prove everything six ways to Sunday.”
If, after that lengthy process, it is indisputably clear that “somebody else won other than Biden, Fann said, “according to our [state] Constitution, according to our rules, by the House and Senate, it can’t be just the Senate” would either meet if already in session or call a special session “for the purpose of putting the question on the board to decertify the electors.”
It would require a simple majority, 16 votes in the Senate and 31 votes in the House.
In the Senate, Republicans hold 16 of the 30 seats. In the House, the party’s majority is 31-29.
So, while it is a hypothetical possibility that the 2020 electors could be decertified, Fann stated outright that the likelihood is small at this point.
“And I can tell you, we don’t have 16 and 31,” Fann said.
If Republicans didn’t have the votes, there would be nothing else they could do “other than fix the election laws to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” And that’s the main goal of the audit — ensuring that future elections are conducted fairly.
Summing up, Upper noted, “It seems pretty clear we haven’t seen anything that we would say rises to the level of criminal activity or even potential criminal activity.”
“Nope, not yet,” Fann replied, about the 34-minutes mark.
“Any reason to believe that would change?” Upper asked. “Have you seen anything that might even hint, that would say, ‘Oh we’ve got to look at that one pretty closely?’ Any smoke that might be indicative of a fire?”
“I am always very leery about ever, ever jumping out and saying, ‘Oh, I think there was fraud or criminal activity or not,’ because you really can’t do that until you have the proof,” Fann responded.
“You can always say two and two is not adding up to four. You can say, ‘I’ve got questions because this isn’t working out.’ But to literally accuse somebody of intentionally … criminal activity or fraud or something like that, I’m always very careful not to jump out and do that because nobody should be disparaged that way unless there’s proof.”
Until Maricopa County turns over the information the auditors require, there will be no solid conclusions. Based upon the preliminary findings revealed at the Arizona Senate’s July 15 briefing as well as the obstructive behavior of the Republicans on the Board of Supervisors, and Democrats nationwide, many of us have questions we’d like to see answered.
Fann is clearly a smart lady and she has to be aware that every word she utters will be scrutinized by those invested in scuttling the audit.
But from where I sit, it sure does feel like there’s smoke that could indicate a fire.