Arizona state Senate Republicans justified their investigation Friday despite Maricopa County's identical inspection announced two days prior, saying they would rely on a "qualified auditing firm" to carry a "forensic audit" of the results.
"There are two primary reasons we have determined the Senate needed to retain its own independent auditing firm. The Senate has consistently called for an auditor certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). We have now learned the EAC does not certify auditors as such," said state Senate President Karen Fann. "The other primary reason is that the scope of the audit must be broader than the one proposed by [Maricopa] County's vendors, [and] our firm will perform everything we have required in the subpoenas."
State Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen praised Fann's decision as a crucial step toward guaranteeing election integrity.
"Maricopa County has chosen two companies to audit their election. Unfortunately, their limited scope does not fulfill the demand of our subpoena, which called for a deep forensic audit," said Petersen. "We need to do more than make basic checks on the machines to make sure they were working. ... I’m grateful the President has chosen a firm that will do that work. Only then will our voters feel confident about the results of the election."
The Maricopa County examination, begun by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, will include an independent forensic audit of the county's ballot count equipment, essentially on the Dominion Voting Systems machines used to record vote tallies. Predicting the Senate's audit, approval for the audit was not popular among board members.
"We trust the process, but we take many steps always, day after day, to verify we are doing the right thing, and this is just part of the process this board is known for," Clint Hickman, the supervisor for District 4, said Wednesday.
Further complicating matters is the small foretold victory of the state's incumbent GOP chairwoman, Trump loyalist Kelli Ward. Having been called the victor by a mere 42 votes, Ward is being reduced to demands for a re-inspection of her own race by challenger Sergio Arellano.
“This isn’t about the chairman’s race," Arellano, the Arizona businessman who came in second place to Ward in their weekend election face-off, said in a written statement obtained by the Arizona Republic. "This is about election integrity."
Ward declined calls for her race to be reviewed, saying the results are "final."