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Arizona audit contractor refutes GOP claims that election data was erased

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Arizona audit contractor refutes GOP claims that election data was erased
A voter casts their ballot on Election Day, November 3, 2020. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

May 19 (UPI) -- A contractor hired by Arizona Republicans to run a controversial audit of ballots and data from the 2020 presidential election in the state has said that none of the data is missing -- refuting some lawmakers who said it had been deleted.

Republican Arizona state senators hired the firm CyFIR to conduct the audit in Maricopa County, believing that irregularities were to blame for former President Donald Trump's defeat in the state last fall. President Joe Biden carried the state by a margin of about 10,500 votes and became the first Democrat since Bill Clinton to win Arizona.

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There were claims this week that data from the county's election results were erased or went missing because auditors couldn't find them.

During a meeting Tuesday night, CyFIR founder Ben Cotton said the files in question weren't missing and had been accounted for. The confusion likely resulted from the fact that auditors initially weren't looking in the right place, officials said.

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Cotton said Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous, uses a multi-layered storage system for its data and didn't provide an explanation of how that system was structured. He said auditors initially had a difficult time with the settings and configurations of the databases.

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After making a copy of the database, Cotton said auditors were able to find the files that were said to be deleted.

The ongoing audit in Arizona has helped fuel more claims of conspiracy from Trump and his followers. The Arizona Republican Party has repeatedly suggested, without evidence, there were irregularities or fraud in Arizona that cost Trump the election. Arizona was one of several swing states that helped Biden win by an Electoral College count of 306 to 232.

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Arizona Senate President Karen Fann added to the controversy in a letter to county officials this week, claiming that the files had been deliberately removed.

Fann used subpoena power to seize more than 2 million ballots, count machines and computer drives in Maricopa County and hired CyFIR for the audit. She also hired Cyber Ninjas, a tech firm led by a Trump supporter who's made conspiracy accusations involving the presidential election.

Fann invited the county's Board of Supervisors to attend Tuesday night's meeting, but they declined.

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The board, which is comprised of Republicans, have slammed the audit as a "sham" and said the auditors hired to look into the review are inept.

The accusations of impropriety led a fierce rebuke from the board in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.

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"This board is done explaining anything to these people who are playing investigator with our constituents' ballots and equipment, paid for with real people's tax dollars," board Chairman Jack Sellers wrote to Fann, according to CNN.

"People's ballots and money are not make-believe. It's time to be done with this craziness."

U.S. Election 2020

Balloons and signs fill the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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