Voting rights groups demand DOJ monitor Arizona GOP's shady election audit

842

A trio of voting rights groups said they fear 'ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws' in the Republican audit of Arizona's 2020 election results.

Voting rights advocates are so concerned about potential violations of federal election laws in the Republican-led audit of Arizona's 2020 election results that they've requested the Department of Justice step in to monitor the process.

"We are very concerned that the auditors are engaged in ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws," reads the letter sent on Thursday by the heads of the Brennan Center for Justice, the Leadership Conference, and Protect Democracy. "Specifically, we believe that the senate and its agents, including Cyber Ninjas, are violating their duty under federal law to retain and preserve ballots cast in a federal election, which are and have been in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irretrievably damaged."

The group of experts warned that "Arizona citizens are in imminent danger of being subject to unlawful voter intimidation as a result of flawed audit procedures."

Republicans in the Arizona state Senate forced the audit of roughly 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County — the state's largest — in an effort to prove their claims of voter fraud. Two previous audits of the results found no irregularities or fraud and confirmed that Joe Biden won in Arizona.

Helen Purcell, a Republican who served as the Maricopa County recorder, said the audit was not necessary, and that it was prone to human error. Yet the GOP-controlled state Senate pressed on, and has been hit with a wave of complaints for how the audit is being conducted.

First, Senate President Karen Fann hired a Florida firm called Cyber Ninjas to lead the review.

The firm is owned by a Donald Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist named Doug Logan. Logan aided in ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell's effort to overturn Trump's loss in the courts, writing a document that contained numerous fake conspiracy theories about fraud.

Then, amid reports that ballots were being mishandled and improperly secured, Democrats in the state filed a lawsuit to force the firm to release its procedures in order to ensure it was following election laws.

The firm initially tried to block the release, saying that making its procedures public could reveal trade secrets.

A judge ruled against that argument, forcing Cyber Ninjas to release its procedures — some of which the Arizona Mirror reported appeared to be implemented after the audit had already began.

For example, the procedures say only red ink pens will be used, but reporters observed volunteers using blue ink pens during the audit — which could have been used to mark or change ballots improperly. Further, according to the group of voting rights advocates, Cyber Ninjas is not securing the ballots, "allowing unauthorized person to access the ballot storage facility." The group says Cyber Ninjas is also "compromising the integrity of the ballots themselves," by improperly handling the ballots.

Of particular concern, they not allowing nonpartisan observers and experts access to the process, thus "failing to ensure that the audit is transparent."

Meanwhile, on Friday, Cyber Ninjas accidentally released a "confidential" overview of its security procedures, which claims that antifa — the loose movement of anti-fascists that Republicans have railed against — might try to launch an "opportunistic incendiary attack" against the arena where the audit is being conducted.

Because of this, the firm requested National Guard security, which was denied by Arizona's Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Vice News reported.

Meanwhile, CNN reporter Kyung Lah reported on Friday that some of the ballot counters were overt Trump supporters, including one who had a Trump sticker on their car.

And Arizona Republic reporter Ryan Randazzo reported that former Arizona state Rep. Anthony Kern was reviewing ballots. Kern, a Republican, had joined a failed lawsuit filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) that sought to force Mike Pence to overturn Trump's loss during the Electoral College count.

"'Everybody went through a full background check, made sure there was nothing on social media or other details that showed any strong opinions one way or another.' - Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan describing how they chose counters. How did @anthonykernAZ make that cut?" Arizona Capitol Times reporter Julia Shumway tweeted.

Democrats have slammed the audit, with Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs dubbing it a "fraudit" and calling it "comical in its incompetence."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.