Shadegg report from ‘audit’ finds no internet connection for ballot tabulation equipment

Maricopa
County’s ballot tabulation system was never connected to the internet
during the 2020 election and there were no routers to inspect, concluded
a team of experts assembled by former Republican Congressman John
Shadegg as part of the so-called “audit” of the last presidential
election. 

As part of the review the Senate
President Karen Fann ordered into the baseless claims of fraud that
former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters spread after he
lost the election, she and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
agreed that Shadegg would serve as a special master who would hire IT
three experts to examine the county’s routers and determine whether
ballot tabulation machines were ever connected to the internet. There
was never any evidence that the machines had been connected to the
internet or otherwise hacked. 

The county on Wednesday released the
results of Shadegg’s investigation, which found no evidence of internet
connectivity by the county’s Ballot Tabulation Center. Fann asked that
Shadegg’s team examine routers and Splunk logs, which are records of
events and tasks that occur in a network. Shadegg’s report said there were, in fact, no routers or splunk logs to examine.

Shadegg’s report said his team
examined both the ballot tabulation equipment used in the 2020 election,
which is currently in the possession of the Attorney General’s Office
as part of its investigation into the results of Fann’s audit, and the
equipment that was purchased to replace it. 

Those machines, the report said,
“were not, are not now, and are not ever connected by wire or wirelessly
to any routers, computers, or electronic equipment outside the BTC.”

Furthermore, the report said that
Shadegg found no evidence that data from the Ballot Tabulation Center
had been deleted, purged, overwritten or destroyed, and that there was
no evidence that anyone had tried to obstruct the “audit.”

Experts retained by the Senate produced a list of questions for Shadegg’s team
to answer regarding the county’s election network. The report said
whoever wrote those questions appears to have been operating under a
false impression there is a single “election network” within the county.
There are actually two networks, the report said — the Ballot
Tabulation Center and the Office of Enterprise Technology.

The OET, Shadegg wrote, provides
infrastructure for all county departments, including the Recorder’s
Office and Elections Department. It stores and maintains voter
registration records, but is not involved in the actual ballot
tabulation process, and is not connected in any way to the BTC. It is
connected to the internet, but only relays voter registration data. The
county’s routers that connect to the OET were not connected to the
Ballot Tabulation Center, the report stated.

The county has been harshly critical
of the “audit,” which the supervisors and the Recorder’s Office believed
to be inspired by bogus allegations unsupported by any evidence, and
conducted by an unqualified team with a bias in favor of conspiracy
theories about the 2020 election. In a press statement on Wednesday,
Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said the report confirms what
the county’s elections team has long said — that the 2020 election was
secure. 

“In short, the unanimous conclusions
of this expert panel should be a final stake in the heart of the
Senate’s so-called ‘audit,’” said Gates, a Republican. “Whenever
impartial, independent, and competent people have examined the County’s
election practices, they have found no reason to doubt the integrity of
those practices.”

Fann, R-Prescott, said on Wednesday
evening that she hadn’t yet seen the report and wouldn’t make any
comments until she’d read it. 

Shadegg’s report directly contradicts findings of Fann’s “audit” team,
which claimed it found evidence that several ballot tabulation machines
were connected to the internet. The county said those claims were false
and noted that the machines are air-gapped, meaning they’re prevented
from establishing external connections. 

CyFIR, the company that conducted
that part of the “audit,” also made two misleading claims about
internet-connected equipment. It correctly said two particular pieces of
equipment had been connected to the internet, but withheld the fact
that they’re web servers that are supposed to be connected and that
they’re not part of the county’s election management system. 

The findings of the “audit” have been largely debunked and discredited.
Doug Logan, former CEO of the now-dissolved company Cyber Ninjas, who
led the election review team, has consistently refused to answer
questions about his purported findings. 

The routers used by the Elections Department were at the heart of a prolonged feud between Fann and the county. 

Fann last year issued subpoenas for a
trove of election-related data and equipment from the county, most of
which the supervisors turned over after losing a legal challenge in
court. But the supervisors refused to provide the routers, which are
used by all county departments, not just the Recorder’s Office. The
supervisors said handing over the routers would largely disable the
operations of county government, and would give the “audit” team access
to sensitive, confidential information.

Some Republican lawmakers and other
GOP figures who were devotees of the bogus election fraud claims
surrounding the 2020 election fixated on the routers as the potential
source of the fraud they believed cost Trump the election. Trump himself
ranted about the routers during a speech in Phoenix in July.

As a result, Fann and the supervisors reached an agreement
for Shadegg to serve as a special master. He was authorized to hire a
team of experts who would examine the routers at the county’s
facilities. 

The Attorney General’s Office is currently investigating the other claims made by Fann’s “audit” team. 

Trump lost Arizona to President Joe
Biden by 10,457 votes in 2020, falling short by 45,109 votes in Maricopa
County. He was the first Republican presidential candidate to lose
Arizona since Bill Clinton won the state in 1996, and only the second
since 1948.

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