PHOENIX — A federal judge has heard arguments from both sides in a lawsuit involving election tabulation machines in Arizona.
The lawsuit pits two high-profile candidates against each other, Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake and Democrat candidate Katie Hobbs, who is also Secretary of State.
Lake, along with Republican Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, is suing the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, claiming tabulation machines cannot be trusted and should not be used to count votes.
The plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi to order the removal of electronic machines from elections so Arizona’s two largest counties employ a hand count instead.
“We’re hoping we can get rid of these electronic voting machines. We know they are very easily corruptible. They can be hacked very easily,” Lake said Thursday morning in an interview with 12News. Lake has espoused at least four different election conspiracy theories that are baseless.
“This is quite frankly a waste of court resources and a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Katie Hobbs Thursday morning during a news conference.
A witness for the defense, Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett, testified a hand count would require 25,000 temporary employees and 2 million square feet of space. Jarrett compared the space needed for such an operation to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.
“This would take forever,” Jarrett said. He added the county is struggling to get 3,000 temporary workers for the August primary election.
An expert witness for the plaintiffs testified that voting tabulation machines could be vulnerable to malware. Another witness for the plaintiffs, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, testified about his company’s findings during last year’s Republican partisan audit of the 2020 presidential election. The State Senate forwarded those findings to the State Attorney General’s Office for investigation.
Logan testified he believed computers are better at counting votes than humans “if all goes right.” Logan acknowledged Cyber Ninjas found “no direct proof” there was an intrusion in the 2020 election.
Election security consultant Ryan Macias testified for the defense. Macias described physical and software security measures that are implemented to keep elections secure. He said he has seen “anomalies” that have been detected on tabulation software in other states. However he is not aware of any “intrusion” of election systems, he said.
Macias said a hand count would be less accurate than machines.
While Macias was on the stand, attorneys for the plaintiffs told the judge they had a video showing Macias attempted to get into the Cyber Ninjas audit in 2020 at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum by “posing” as a member of the news media. Macias denied the allegation and said people involved with the audit were already aware he was going to show up. Attorneys for Lake pressed the issue. Attorneys for Hobbs said they wanted to see the video. The judge said the hearing was not a forum to present evidence and there was no need to show the video anyways.
At one point, attorney Andrew Parker, representing the plaintiffs, said a hand count tally would give voters more confidence in the election.
“Voting and machines don’t go together. We shouldn’t try to pound them together,” Parker said.
Judge Tuchi responded by saying he didn’t agree that people would have more faith in a hand count than a computer.
Jarret also testified that he witnessed mishaps with the Cyber Ninjas audit. While watching the live feed of the audit, he said he observed a ballot counter tallying votes while physically turned away from ballots passing by them. He was testifying to the idea that hand counting leads to errors.
Judge Tuchi did not indicate when he will make a decision about the injunction request. He said the plaintiffs have one week to respond to issues raised in the hearing.
12News Intern Autriya Maneshni contributed to this article.
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