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Maricopa County ballots cast in November are being recounted by contractors under a recount launched by the Arizona State Senate at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix,  April 29. (Arizona Republic via AP) Maricopa County ballots cast in November are being recounted by contractors under a recount launched by the Arizona State Senate at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix,  April 29. (Arizona Republic via AP)

Maricopa County ballots cast in November are being recounted by contractors under a recount launched by the Arizona State Senate at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, April 29. (Arizona Republic via AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher May 19, 2021

No proof for Trump claim that a database for 2020 election in Ariz. was deleted

If Your Time is short

  • Trump claimed that an entire database from the 2020 election in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, had been illegally deleted.

  • His claim was made three days after a tweet from an ongoing audit of the election claimed that the county “deleted a directory full of election databases.”

  • Three days after Trump’s statement, the head of a firm helping do the audit essentially walked back the database claim.

On May 15, 6½ months after losing the presidential election to Joe Biden, Donald Trump continued his baseless claims about election fraud with a statement about the GOP-commissioned audit of results in Maricopa County, Ariz.

"The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!" the statement said.

Trump called the alleged deletion "illegal," then went on to make several other claims of "election crime" and "presidential election fraud."

Trump’s statement didn’t describe the database he referred to, and his office did not reply to our requests for information to support his claim.

There is no evidence that an entire database from the 2020 election in Maricopa County was illegally deleted. In fact, one of the firms doing an audit of the election essentially walked back its initial claim of the database being deleted.

Final official results of the November election showed Biden beat Trump in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, 1,040,774 votes to 995,665. Even though the original result has been validated by a hand-count sample audit and a forensic audit of tabulation equipment that found no abnormalities, this ongoing Maricopa audit was ordered up by Republican state senators. It began April 23.

Cyber Ninjas, a technology company lacking election audit experience, is leading the audit. The firm is headed by Doug Logan, who promoted "stop the steal" conspiracy theories about the election that culminated in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. 

On May 12, three days before Trump issued his statement, the audit’s Twitter account stated: "Breaking Update: Maricopa County deleted a directory full of election databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit. This is spoliation of evidence!" 

On May 17, the Maricopa County Elections Department issued a memo refuting the claim. An analysis confirmed that "the original database folder on the ‘EMSPrimary’ server was not deleted or otherwise tampered with during packaging and delivery" of election materials to the Arizona Senate for the audit, the memo said.

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The next day, at a public meeting on the audit called by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, one of the auditors backtracked on the database claim.

"I discovered a (Master File Table) that clearly indicated that the database directory was deleted from that server," Ben Cotton, founder of CyFir, one of the firms involved in the audit, said at the hearing. 

"So, all of this, however, may be a moot point because subsequently, I've been able to recover all of those deleted files and I have access to that data."

The auditor simply did not know how to look for the data, according to an email to Fann from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in response to the tweet.

The tweet "is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors’ incompetence," the board’s letter said. 

"Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County."

Our ruling

Trump claimed: "The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!"

His statement came three days after the Twitter account for an ongoing audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County claimed that the county "deleted a directory full of election databases." A few days later, the head of one of the firms helping do the audit said he in fact was able to access the data. 

There is no evidence any election database was deleted illegally.

We rate Trump’s claim False.

Our Sources

DonaldJTrump.com, Donald Trump statement, May 15, 2021

Email, Megan Gilbertson, communications director, Maricopa County Elections Department, May 18, 2021

Twitter, Maricopa Arizona Audit tweet, May 12, 2021

USA Today, "Fact check: False claim from Trump about Maricopa County election database," May 18, 2021

Washington Examiner, "Maricopa election audit team says 'deleted files' recovered," May 18, 2021

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, email to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, May 17, 2021

Arizona Republic, "Election auditors say they have data that Maricopa County officials were accused of deleting," May 18, 2021

YouTube, 12News.com video (53:00) of Arizona Senate meeting, May 18, 2021

Snopes, "Was Maricopa County Elections Database Deleted?", May 17, 2021

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More by Tom Kertscher

No proof for Trump claim that a database for 2020 election in Ariz. was deleted

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