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Arizona GOP audit: County denies claims staff deleted data

Ben Cotton, founder of the firm CyFIR, alleged there is evidence of general election results getting purged in February before the Senate GOP's audit started.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 22, 2021, file photo, Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference in Phoenix.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — The founder of a digital forensics firm accused Maricopa County of intentionally deleting data during a presentation Friday on the results of a partisan, GOP-led audit into the county's 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election.

Ben Cotton is the founder of the firm CyFIR. He alleged there is evidence of general election results getting purged in February before the Senate GOP's audit started. 

The county, however, repudiated those claims in a tweet: 

Cotton, a member of Senate President Karen Fann's audit team, is best known for having driven copies of the county's voting system data to a lab at his home in Montana.

Fann authorized the unprecedented election review without a vote of the full Senate after unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Joe Biden's victory in Arizona's largest county - the first in more than 70 years by a Democrat - delivered the state to the now president.

The vote was certified in late November by Arizona's Republican governor, Doug Ducey. Nothing that is presented Friday will change the outcome of the vote, although there is a movement among Trump diehards to "decertify" the election.

RELATED: Arizona Audit: 'Voting system data' was sent to a 'lab' in Montana and we don't know why

RELATED: Live updates | Arizona's GOP election audit results: Count shows Joe Biden as winner in Maricopa County

Cotton during Friday's presentation also criticized Maricopa County for not providing access to computer routers during the audit. But the county has repeatedly said opening up access would be a security risk. 

Cotton said he faults the county for failing to follow cyber security protocols. Maricopa County said it is always preparing for potential issues that could impact elections. 

"In advance of the 2020 general election, our Information Security Department implemented additional security controls to both prevent and detect unauthorized access to our website," the county has said. 

The county also said its tabulation equipment is never connected to the internet. 


Maricopa County election audit

Keep track of the latest developments from the Maricopa County election audit on the 12 News YouTube channel.