Sen. Paul Boyer sharply criticized the increasingly beleaguered election audit, becoming the first member of the Senate’s Republican caucus to publicly raise objections.
“It makes us look like idiots,” Boyer told the New York Times. “Looking back, I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”
Boyer, R-Glendale, made the comments to the New York Times for an article the newspaper published on Sunday about the audit’s mounting problems, from allegations of partisan bias to questions about the credentials of the companies involved to alleged violations of federal law.
The Senate never voted on whether to conduct the audit or to subpoena tabulation machines, voter registration records and nearly 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County, among other materials from the 2020 general election. Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen issued the subpoenas under the authority of their positions, and Fann acted under her authority as leader of the chamber when she signed a contract with Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm that is leading the audit team.
The only Senate vote related to the audit came in February, when the chamber voted on a resolution to hold the five members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt for challenging the subpoenas in court. The resolution would have authorized Fann to have the supervisors arrested, even though a judge had not yet ruled on whether the subpoenas were valid and enforceable. The resolution fell short by one vote when Boyer broke with his GOP colleagues.
Boyer received thousands of threatening calls and text messages from people angered by his vote, prompting him to change his cell phone number.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ended the months-long legal battle in late February when he ruled that the county had to comply with the subpoenas.
Since then, the audit has faced a series of problems. Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan turned out to be a “Stop the Steal” advocate who had embraced the baseless claim that the election was rigged against former President Donald Trump. The audit team’s scope of work includes chasing far-fetched conspiracy theories, such as examining ballots for bamboo fibers to ensure they weren’t counterfeits manufactured in Asia and using ultraviolet lights to search for nonexistent watermarks. And the audit is being mostly funded by undisclosed contributions from outside groups, rather than by the Senate.
The audit has garnered national attention, getting coverage from major news organizations like The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and numerous other national media outlets, and has been the butt of jokes on comedy programs like “The Daily Show” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Though Fann, Cyber Ninjas and others involved in the audit initially expected it to wrap up by May 14, when the audit team must move out of Veterans Memorial Coliseum to make way for a week of high school graduations, they now expect it to last weeks longer, possibly going into July.