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PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona's largest county is demanding the state Senate pay $2.8 million to cover the costs of replacing vote-counting machines that the state's top election official says cannot be used again because of their handling during the Senate Republicans’ 2020 election review.
Maricopa County's GOP-controlled Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to seek reimbursement for machines that Senate Republicans gave to contractors led by Florida-based Cyber Ninjas.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said the machines were compromised because they were given to people not certified to handle them. She said she would move to decertify them, blocking their use in future elections, if the county didn't replace them.
The county is leasing the machines from Dominion Voting Systems. Last month, the county Board of Supervisors agreed to buy the compromised machines from Dominion, which will provide new equipment for use through the 2022 election, when the lease agreement expires.
The election review is being funded almost entirely by groups led by prominent supporters of President Donald Trump who have pushed false narratives claiming the 2020 election was marred by fraud. It's led by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, who has promoted election conspiracies on social media.
Election experts say the election review is beset by problems including inconsistent and unreliable procedures, in addition to the biased funders and workers. They say the 2020 election was secure, and thorough reviews have found it was not influenced by fraud.
The county's demand for payment was in a notice of claim, a necessary precursor to a lawsuit.
The Republican supervisors said they were taking the action reluctantly, emphasizing that they were not filing a lawsuit but preserving their right to do so.
“We all know that government suing government never plays out well,” said GOP Supervisor Steve Chucri. “And who loses? The taxpayers.”
Republican Senate President Karen Fann agreed in April that the Senate would cover costs that Maricopa County incurred from relinquishing its control of the machines. On Wednesday, however, she said the machines weren't damaged or tampered with, suggesting she views the replacement as unnecessary.
“This is yet another publicity stunt by Maricopa County,” Fann said in a statement.