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Maricopa County will obtain new voting machines after 2020 audit concludes

The review of millions of ballots in Arizona has alarmed and confused election experts, and raised concerns about the voting machines.
A protester holds a sign that reads,"fair election" outside the State Capitol Executive Tower on Dec. 14, 2020 in Phoenix as Arizona's Presidential Electors met to cast their ballots.Courtney Pedroza / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Arizona's most populous county is scrapping its voting machines and procuring new ones in the wake of the conspiracy-soaked Republican audit of last year's ballots.

In December, Arizona Senate Republicans subpoenaed nearly 400 of Maricopa County's machines, along with ballots cast by voters, for an unusual audit of the 2020 election results. The GOP hired private firms, led by the Florida-based cybersecurity company Cyber Ninjas, to do the work, delivering the election machines and ballots to them this year.

But as the audit — and its procedures, which have alarmed and confused election experts — continued this spring and summer, concerns about the machines grew. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told the county Board of Supervisors last month that she believed the security of the county’s election machines had been compromised by Cyber Ninjas' work and would consider decertifying the machines if Maricopa sought to reuse them.

In Arizona, the secretary of state can decertify machinery in consultation with the state's election equipment certification committee, a three-person panel appointed by Hobbs.

On Monday, county attorney Allister Adel wrote to Hobbs on behalf of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, agreeing with her assessment.

“The board shares your concerns,” she said in a letter. “Accordingly, I write to notify you that Maricopa County will not use the subpoenaed election equipment in any future election.”

The county has said it used backup equipment in municipal elections this year, but would obtain new machines for the November election.

Replacing the machines would likely cost millions. The county’s most recent expense for election equipment was a $6.1 million contract with Dominion Voting Systems in 2019, the county told NBC News, though not all of that equipment was subpoenaed and will need to be replaced.

The new machines will also be made by Dominion, according to Fields Moseley, the county's communications director.

Trump allies advanced a series of conspiracy theories about the Dominion Voting Systems during the election, including that the company had ties to deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez and that it had switched votes. There is no evidence of these claims, and numerous audits in Maricopa County verified the accuracy and security of the 2020 election there.

The Republican-backed review of the county's ballots finished on Friday, and “quality control” work is expected to wrap up this week.