Fann hopes Shadegg report will restore confidence in elections

By: - March 24, 2022 2:41 pm
Karen Fann

Senate President Karen Fann. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flckr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Senate President Karen Fann said she hopes that a recently concluded investigation that found that Maricopa County’s ballot tabulation system has never been connected to the internet will help restore confidence in Arizona’s election system. 

Maricopa County on Tuesday released a report with the findings of a three-person team of IT experts, led by former Republican Congressman John Shadegg, that debunked long-standing but evidence-free conspiracy theories that its ballot tabulation machines were connected to the internet during the 2020 general election. Advocates of the false claims that the election was rigged have alleged, without any proof, that the results of the presidential election were manipulated through the machines to make Donald Trump lose to Joe Biden. Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to bring some closure to the voters who had questions and concerns about the security of these computers. We’re hoping this new information will restore some confidence back into our elections system,” Fann said in a statement provided to the Arizona Mirror on Thursday. 

Fann, R-Prescott, commissioned the investigation into Maricopa County’s election system and routers as part of the so-called “audit” that she ordered into the 2020 election following a tidal wave of false claims that Trump was defeated through fraud. 

The Senate president said she will consult with her “audit” team about the results of the Shadegg investigation. She said she is also awaiting the findings of the Attorney General’s Office, which is investigating the findings from her partisan election review.

The Shadegg report’s findings contradict the findings of CyFIR, a cybersecurity company that was part of the “audit” team. CyFIR CEO Ben Cotton claimed he found evidence that several ballot tabulation machines were connected to the internet, an allegation that Maricopa County has long maintained  is false. 

“The special master and expert panel found no evidence that the routers, managed switches, or election devices connected to the public Internet. There are no routers or managed switches or Splunk logs in the BTC,” Shadegg’s report stated, referring to the county’s Ballot Tabulation Center. 

Shadegg’s report also mirrors the findings of an audit that Maricopa County commissioned in February 2021, in which two companies that were accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to certify voting equipment found that the machines had not been hacked and were never connected to the internet. 

The county says Cotton was correct that two pieces of equipment were connected to the internet, but that those machines were web servers whose entire purpose was internet connectivity. Cotton did not state in his findings that they were web servers, instead giving the misleading impression that their internet connections were somehow suspicious. The county has debunked many of the “audit” team’s findings

Fann demanded the county’s routers as part of a broader set of subpoenas seeking election equipment and data for her proposed “audit.” Though most of the material was turned over after the county lost a legal challenge to the subpoenas, it refused to provide the routers, which were used by numerous county departments and which officials said contained confidential information. 

Rather that turn over the routers to Cyber Ninjas, the company Fann chose to lead the election review — the company had no experience in election-related matters, and its CEO was an active participant in the “Stop the Steal” movement that falsely portrayed the 2020 election as rigged — the county reached an agreement with Fann in which Shadegg, serving as a special master, would hire a team of experts to examine them at the county’s facilities. 

Though Fann was pleased with the investigation’s results, she said she was “disappointed that it took over a year to come to this conclusion and wish we could have had better cooperation from Maricopa County throughout the process.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”