FACT CHECK: Did Maricopa County Delete All Of Its 2020 Election Results?
A post shared on Twitter claims someone from Maricopa County intentionally deleted all the 2020 election result records the day before an audit of those results began.
Someone from @maricopacounty intentionally went into the system and chose to delete all records used for election results.
This was a day before the audit started
— Columnated Ruins- Liberty Legion (@DominofromAZ) September 24, 2021
While some digital records related to the 2020 election were moved to archival databases, no records were permanently deleted, according to Maricopa County election officials.
Cyber Ninjas, the firm contracted by the Republican-controlled state Senate to lead an audit of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, presented the findings of its report on Sept. 24. The report confirmed President Joe Biden’s win in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, according to USA Today.
The Cyber Ninjas report claimed that a large number of files stored on the Election Management System (EMS) Server and HiPro Scanner machines, including “ballot images, election related databases, result files, and log files” had been deleted. It said that “these files would have aided in our review and analysis of the election systems as part of the audit.”
Following the release of the Cyber Ninjas audit report, one Twitter user made a similar allegation. “Someone from @maricopacounty intentionally went into the system and chose to delete all records used for election results,” reads a viral Sept. 24 tweet. “This was a day before the audit started.” (RELATED: Were Over 17,000 Duplicate Votes Found In The Maricopa County Audit?)
This claim, however, is inaccurate. Check Your Fact found no credible news reporting about all the county’s election records being deleted. The timing of the tweet suggests it may have been prompted by the release of the Cyber Ninjas report, but the report does not claim all the records were deleted, only some, and it alleges these items were deleted between October 2020 and March 2021. The Cyber Ninjas audit did not officially begin until late April, according to the Arizona Republic.
Officials from Maricopa County denied the claim that any digital records from the 2020 election have been deleted, stating in a tweet that the records had simply been moved to archival databases due to storage limitations on the servers. “This is misleading,” reads a tweet from Maricopa County’s verified Twitter account about the claim. “As stated above, servers have space limitations. Files are not deleted; they are archived. The Senate never subpoenaed our EMS archives.”
CLAIM: Election files deleted
BOTTOM LINE: This is misleading. As stated above, servers have space limitations. Files are not deleted; they are archived. The Senate never subpoenaed our EMS archives.
— Maricopa County (@maricopacounty) September 24, 2021
The statement shared on Twitter noted that some of the activity observed on the servers following the election was done to prepare them for a previous independent audit that was conducted in February.
“The Election Management System (EMS) database does not store election information forever,” reads the statement. “That’s what archives are for. The Feb 2nd activity referenced in the report was simply standard practice in the data archival process. The EMS server needed to be readied so our certified auditors could test the equipment for accuracy.”
Maricopa County officials have previously denied similar claims. In May, officials from the Maricopa County Elections Department sent a 17-page letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors refuting several accusations of malpractice in relation to the 2020 election, including the allegation that they deleted various files related to the election. The letter likewise stated the purportedly deleted files were not deleted but simply moved to archival storage devices.
“The purpose of moving election databases and results from RTR [Results Tally & Reporting] is to clear results from a previous election before starting a new election,” the document explains. “It is a legitimate practice to move database files within the Dominion EMS application to backup storage devices prior to creating new election configurations to allow efficient operation during each election cycle.”
The Arizona Republic reported that previous audits conducted by independent auditors authorized by Maricopa County found that the county’s ballots were counted correctly during the 2020 election. Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in December that the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in the election, according to the Associated Press.