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Arizona Republican Senate Majority Leader alleges security gaps in election systems in three counties

Sonny Borelli
Sonny Borelli

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli is asking Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell to investigate what he said Wednesday is evidence of security gaps in election systems in three counties.
But at a press conference at the Capitol, the Lake Havasu City Republican refused to share what he said is a declaration from a "cybersecurity expert'' -- whom he also would not name -- with claims that the data and equipment used in the 2020 and 2022 elections "had been altered.'' He said all that has been turned over to Mitchell.
"There is probably cause here of a crime,'' he said.
Mitchell press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer said she her boss got what appears to be a declaration delivered to her electronically. And she said Mitchell forwarded it to the civil division of her office which has handled all prior election-related lawsuits.
But L'Ecuyer said that her boss was "amused'' by the claims because the they suggest that problems in the software are "supposedly undetectable.''
"She wondered how further investigation would allow us to find something that is undetectable,'' L'Ecuyer said.
Borrelli, however, is undeterred.
"What we have here is a breach in security, cybersecurity on our electronic voting systems in our last two elections,'' Borrelli said. "We need to make sure this gets done and is addressed properly before the 2024 election.
He also said any probe also would affect Pima and Coconino counties who he said use the same kind of equipment.
At the same event, Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, said there was also evidence that the master encryption keys for the electronic voting system were in a data base of plain text, "protected by nothing other than a Windows log-in where credentials are easily bypassed.
If all this sounds familiar, it should.
Both issues are carbon copies of claims filed by Kari Lake last week as she asked the U.S. Supreme Court to give her a "do-over'' of the lawsuit she lost claiming that voting machines are inherently untrustworthy and that the only way to ensure an accurate tally is with a hand count. Lake is telling the justices she now has new information that was not available when she and Mark Finchem first filed suit in 2022.
"While this breach has the game changing magnitude of the Allies' deciphering Germany's ENIGMA machine in World War II, it is far worse,'' Lake told the court. Rogers on Wednesday repeated that quote word-for-word.
"I have no idea what you're talking about,'' Borrelli said when informed of the parroted claim.
These kinds of allegations are nothing new for Borrelli and Rogers. They have been proponents of claims -- all so far rejected by multiple courts in multiple lawsuits -- that the 2020 and 2022 elections were somehow rigged.
But Borrelli, for his part, would not say Wednesday whether he believes the official results of both races, certifications showing that Donald Trump actually lost the 2020 presidential election in Arizona and that Lake lost to Katie Hobbs in the 2022 gubernatorial race.
"This is not about Biden or Trump,'' he said, as Rogers called the person asking the question "a radical.''
"It's not about Lake or Hobbs,'' Borrelli said. "To me, this is a national security issue, period.''
And he also brushed aside questions of whether there was any actual evidence of a data breach.
"What we do know is over the last three and a half years is that the third-party vendor had full access to MCTEC (Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center) and workspaces,'' he said, referring to Dominion Voting Systems that provides the county with the counting equipment. "And they even got badged in by a county employee into the server room, unsupervised.''
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said there's a big flaw in all of the claims that the voting system is insecure.
He pointed out that state law requires officials from both major parties to select specific precincts or vote centers after each election as part of a verification process. They then pick out specific races and do a full hand count to ensure that tally matches up within acceptable margins of what the machines have tallied.
In no case has there been a finding of a mismatch.
"Why isn't this revealed in any post-election hand count audits if manipulated?'' he asked of the allegations. And Richer said alterations to programming also would show up in pre- and post-election tests of each county's equipment conducted by the Secretary of State's Office.
And there's something else.
He pointed out that there have been multiple lawsuit following both the 2020 and 2022 elections with claims that the machines were not properly counting the ballots. In each case the judges who have heard the arguments have found nothing wrong.
"Are we really still doing this?'' he asked of the latest round of allegations.
Aside from Borrelli and Rogers being Republicans like Trump and Lake, they share in their distrust of allowing machines to count ballots.
Both supported a 2023 resolution which purports to declare that counties are allowed to scrap the tallying machines and count ballots by hand. Then they both traveled to several counties to convince them that the resolution -- it is not a law and never was submitted to Hobbs -- is enforceable.
None went along. And the board of supervisors in Borrelli's own home county of Mohave, voted 3-2 last November to reject an in-person plea by the senator after Attorney General Kris Mayes warned against such a move, saying her office "will pursue to the fullest extent of the law all possible remedies to ensure the sanctity of Arizona elections.
If that wasn't clear, Mayes pointed out that scrapping the machines could be a criminal violation, along with personal liability for board members who agree to use public funds "for this illegal purpose.''
On X and Threads: @azcapmedia