Top Arizona election official launches website to track issues from scandal-ridden audit

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Former Department of Homeland Security official Matt Masterson, who led election security efforts in the Trump administration, recently called the effort a 'clown show' and a 'waste of taxpayer money.'

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs launched a website this week to track the problems observers have witnessed with the GOP-led "audit" of the state's presidential election results, so far finding more than a dozen problems with ballot security, equipment handling, and the personal conduct of the auditors themselves.

"Since the start of the Senate's so-called audit, my office has had concerns over the lack of transparency and even took legal action to ensure we had election experts on the ground," Hobbs said in a statement.

"They are updating us with their observations, which you can find here," Hobbs added, referencing the observations of the audit observers and linking to the website that tracks the problems those observers have witnessed.

Some of the observations listed on the site had already been reported, including that security gates had been left unattended and that auditors were using pens that could to alter or damage ballots.

But other observations were new, including that Randy Pullen, who is a co-chair of the audit, told an observer that they looked "like a transgender" because of the shirt he was wearing.

Another observation was that audit organizers were calling observers "pinkies" or "pinkos," which the secretary of state's office said was to "either imply and/or assert that the observers are communists."

The observations are the latest problem for the scandal-plagued endeavor — which polling shows is popular with Republicans in the state but unpopular with the majority of Arizonans.

Former Department of Homeland Security official Matt Masterson — who led election security efforts in the Trump administration — called the effort a "clown show" and a "waste of taxpayer money" in an interview with NPR News.

Even some Arizona Republicans have come out in opposition to the audit, which was forced by GOP members of the Arizona state Senate and is being run by a Donald Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist.

Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, a Republican, said the audit is "beneath the dignity of the Senate."

In fact, the majority-Republican Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to GOP state Senate President Karen Fann saying that the "so called 'audit' demonstrates to the world that the Arizona Senate is not acting in good faith, has no intention of learning anything about the November 2020 General Election, but is only interested in feeding the various festering conspiracy theories that fuel the fundraising schemes of those pulling your strings."

And GOP state Sen. Paul Boyer, who had supported the audit initially, said the effort makes Republicans "look like idiots."

Experts say the audit's results will be a sham, as the process was shoddy and clearly intended to bolster Donald Trump and his GOP allies' arguments that there was fraud in the 2020 election — when there was not.

And that's alarming election experts, who say Republicans in other states will use this audit as a blueprint of sorts to continue to spread fraud lies.

"Now we have a playbook out there," Masterson told NPR. "Where if you don't like the results — by the way in an election that wasn't particularly close ... you just claim you didn't lose and in fact the process itself was rigged against you."

Indeed on Wednesday, Republicans from the Pennsylvania state Legislature toured the coliseum where the audit was taking place to witness how the audit was working in order to hold a similar one in their state, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.