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Did Maricopa County ‘Delete All Records Used for Election Results’?
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Did Maricopa County ‘Delete All Records Used for Election Results’?


In response to the recent release of the results of the Republican-led Maricopa County “audit,” a widely shared tweet claims that “Someone from @maricopacounty intentionally went into the system and chose to delete all records used for election results.”

The claim is the same one made at the Arizona “audit” presentation last month, where, as, previously noted, Ben Cotton, founder of digital security firm CyFIR and a member of the audit team, falsely accused Maricopa County of intentionally deleting general election results in the county’s election management system.

This is a false claim. 

Maricopa County officials quickly debunked the claim on Twitter, explaining the election management system has storage limits, so Maricopa County has  “data archival procedures.”

County officials further noted that “Nothing was purged,” and said that “Cyber Ninjas don’t understand the business of elections. We can’t keep everything on the EMS server because it has storage limits.”

Everything related to the November 2020 election was archived on backup drives, the county said: “So everything still exists.”

This isn’t the first time Arizona Republicans have claimed that a voter database had been deleted in Maricopa County. As we explained in a May 12 fact check, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann wrote a letter to Maricopa County officials claiming that the auditors identified deleted election databases. 

In response to this false accusation, the Maricopa County Elections Department refuted the claim and said: “On April 12, 2021, the Recorder Office’s IT Team, shut down the server to be packed up and made ready for delivery to the Senate. At no point was any data deleted when shutting down the server and packing up the equipment.”

Later, on May 19, Senate liaison for the Maricopa County audit took back claims of deleted files and said: “I was able to recover the deleted databases through forensic data recovery processes. We are performing data continuity checks to ensure that the recovered databases are usable.”

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Khaya Himmelman

Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.