Directly outside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum near downtown Phoenix, the Crazy Times Carnival wraps up an 11-day run on Sunday, a spectacle of thrill rides, games and food stands that headlines the Arizona State Fair this year. Inside the coliseum, a Republican-ordered exhumation and review of 2.1 million votes in the state’s November election is heading into its third week, an exercise that has risen to become the lodestar of rigged-vote theorists — and shows no sign of ending soon. Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs noted the carnival’s presence outside the coliseum when she challenged the competence and objectivity of the review last week, expressing concern about the security of the ballots inside in an apparent dig at what has become a spectacle of a very different sort. There is no evidence that former President Donald J. Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona’s presidential election in the fall was fraudulent. Nonetheless, 16 Republicans in the State Senate voted to subpoena ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and two-thirds of the state’s vote in November, for an audit to show Trump die-hards that their fraud concerns were taken seriously. As recently as a week ago, officials said the review would be completed by May 14. But with that deadline a week away, only about 250,000 of the county’s 2.1 million ballots have been processed in the hand recount that is a central part of the review, Ken Bennett, a liaison between those conducting the review and the senators, said on Saturday. At that rate, the hand recount would not be finished until August.
Arizona’s Republican-run election audit is looking for bamboo-laced “China ballots.” | Jeremy Stahl/Slate
On Wednesday, a member of the Arizona election audit team that has been heavily touted by former President Donald Trump revealed that its examination of the 2020 vote in Maricopa County will include a “forensic” analysis of ballots to determine if the paper is made of bamboo—in order to determine whether or not China delivered tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots to tip the state to Joe Biden. If that sounds much too crazy for an audit that was initiated by the Republican-led Arizona Legislature and whose communications are being spearheaded by the Republican former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, it very much is not. On Wednesday, audit liaison John Brakey told a reporter from the local CBS affiliate in Phoenix that the audit team was checking to see if 40,000 Biden ballots were smuggled into Arizona from Asia by checking the paper’s fiber to try to detect bamboo. “There’s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in and stuffed into the box and it came from the southeast part of the world, Asia. And what they’re doing is to find out if there’s bamboo in the paper,” Brakey told Dennis Welch of CBS5 News. Welch asked Brakey a series of follow-ups, such as “Why do you check for bamboo?” and “This is part of what you’re looking for?” and he answered that others were searching for the bamboo ballots because “people in Southeast Asia … use bamboo in their paper processing” and “this is part of the mystery that we want to un-gaslight people about.”
Arizona: Department of Justice asks state Senate to respond to concerns about election audit | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is asking Arizona Senate President Karen Fann to respond to concerns the department has about the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation as the Senate’s contractors perform an audit of November’s presidential election in Maricopa County. In a letter sent to Fann on Wednesday, Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the division, asked for Fann’s response to its concerns with an explanation of “the steps that the Arizona Senate will take to ensure that violations of federal law do not occur” during the audit. The department’s concerns may have been prompted in part by a letter it received Thursday from three organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, asking the department to dispatch federal monitors to oversee the audit. That letter raised the same concerns that the department said it has, regarding the security of ballots and potential voter intimidation. The Arizona Senate got the county’s 2.1 million ballots, voting machines and private and public voter information last month after issuing subpoenas to the county that a court ultimately upheld. The Senate then handed over the ballots, machines and information to private contractors to perform the audit, which began at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 23 and is ongoing.
Arizona: Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in recount, according to secretary of state | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post
Ballots have been left unattended on counting tables. Laptop computers sit abandoned, at times — open, unlocked and unmonitored. Procedures are constantly shifting, with untrained workers using different rules to count ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county. In the six-page letter, Hobbs wrote that elections are “governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency” but that the procedures governing the ongoing recount in Phoenix “ensure none of those things.” Former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett (R), who is acting as a spokesman for the audit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the audit’s Twitter account, @ArizonaAudit, tweeted that Hobbs’s allegations were “baseless claimes [sic].” “The audit continues!” read the tweet. On Wednesday, a top official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote in a letter to the state Senate president that information reviewed by the department “raises concerns,” asking that the Arizona Senate provide information to ensure federal laws were not being violated. She wrote that reports suggested that ballots were “not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.”
Arizona: Maricopa Co. Sheriff says election audit risks law enforcement | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone called the Arizona Senate’s demands for its audit of Maricopa County’s presidential election “mind-numbingly reckless and irresponsible.” Penzone said the law enforcement agency would be at risk if the county turned over the state Senate’s intensified demand for certain routers, or digital copies of the routers. The Senate also is demanding certain administrative passwords to voting machines that county officials say they do not have. Providing the routers could compromise confidential, sensitive and highly classified law enforcement data and equipment, he said in a statement on Friday. “The Senate Republican Caucus’ audit of the Maricopa County votes from last November’s election has no stopping point. Now, its most recent demands jeopardize the entire mission of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” Penzone’s statement said. The county has provided all 2.1 million voter general election ballots, voter information and election equipment in response to state Senate subpoenas. The Senate gave the election materials to private contractors, which allowed the audit and recount to get underway at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 23. But the county did not deliver certain routers that the state Senate sought in its original subpoenas, according to Senate liaison Ken Bennett,
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman blasts Trump-inspired Arizona election audit | Jim Brunner/The Seattle Times
Kim Wyman has been overseeing elections for three decades, as an election manager for Thurston County and Washington secretary of state since 2013. She’s never seen anything like what’s going on in Arizona. Republican lawmakers there have handed over 2.1 million ballots in the state’s largest county to a company called Cyber Ninjas, for an unofficial recount of the long-certified 2020 presidential election results. Wyman, a Republican, says the ongoing spectacle — inspired by baseless claims of widespread election fraud by ex-President Donald Trump — sets a dangerous precedent and will only further undermine confidence in elections. “I can’t get to calling this an audit, or even a recount, because you’re not doing it with any kind of established ground rules or policies or procedures. It’s an exercise at best. It’s political theater at worst,” Wyman said in an interview Friday. Wyman has joined other election experts in publicly criticizing the unprecedented handover of ballots and voting machines in Maricopa County. In an appearance on CNN this week she said the partisan effort should “alarm every American.”
Arizona Review of 2020 Vote Is Riddled With Flaws, Says Secretary of State | Michael Wines/The New York Times
Untrained citizens are trying to find traces of bamboo on last year’s ballots, seemingly trying to prove a conspiracy theory that the election was tainted by fake votes from Asia. Thousands of ballots are left unattended and unsecured. People with open partisan bias, including a man who was photographed on the Capitol steps during the Jan. 6 riot, are doing the recounting. All of these issues with the Republican-backed re-examination of the November election results from Arizona’s most populous county were laid out this week by Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state, in a scathing six-page letter Ms. Hobbs called the process “a significant departure from standard best practices.” “Though conspiracy theorists are undoubtedly cheering on these types of inspections — and perhaps providing financial support because of their use — they do little other than further marginalize the professionalism and intent of this ‘audit,’” she wrote to Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state and the liaison between Republicans in the State Senate and the company conducting it. The effort has no official standing and will not change the state’s vote, whatever it finds. But it has become so troubled that the Department of Justice also expressed concerns this week in a letter saying that it might violate federal laws. “We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and are at risk of damage or loss,” wrote Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The scene playing out in Arizona is perhaps the most off-the-rails episode in the Republican Party’s escalating effort to support former President Donald J. Trump’s lie that he won the election. Four months after Congress certified the results of the presidential election, local officials around the country are continuing to provide oxygen for Mr. Trump’s obsession that he beat Joseph R. Biden Jr. last fall.
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has been known to call out her party in the past when they make a move she disagrees with, and she recently called out Republicans in Arizona for the recount that’s being done now of the 2020 election results. “The precedence of this is just unnerving for election officials across the country and it should alarm every American in the country because we don’t want people to be able to just walk into a crime scene and contaminate evidence for a future trial,” Wyman said previously. For those who haven’t been following the story in Arizona, Wyman joined KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to explain, and share why she’s bothered by the precedent it sets. “One of the things that I’ve been very proud of, my profession as election administrators, that over the last 30 years we’ve worked very hard to have policies and procedures and laws that make our elections fair and that inspire confidence in everyone from the most liberal Democrat to the most conservative Republican,” she said. “And what we’re seeing in Arizona is this move to privatize administrative processes, politicize them, and try to have an outcome that calls into question the election by giving 2.1 million ballots to a private company with no accountability to the public or to the voters of Arizona.”
Arizona: The obvious goal of the Maricopa recount: Injecting more doubt into the 2020 results | Philip Bump/The Washington Post
The reason it’s fun to lie back on a warm spring day and look for shapes in the clouds is that you can usually pick something out. When there are a lot of clouds, slowly swelling and shifting as they drift along, it’s not hard to apply a bit of imagination and see a marching elephant or a hot-air balloon. Humans are good at spotting patterns in chaos. I’m not an evolutionary scientist, so I’ll defer to them for an explanation of how this was advantageous. But our skill is obvious, even outside the context of lazy afternoons lying in the grass. Give us a big set of data and we can find some throughline. This ability has collided uncomfortably with the Internet. Give people an endless supply of information, not all of it legitimate, and people can build up entire ecosystems of belief only loosely bound to reality. The flagship example of this in recent months is the QAnon movement, a self-assembled community that has plunged deep into a surreal and dangerous world of belief. But the same can also be said of claims that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from President Donald Trump, a claim that itself depends on a flimsy latticework of cherry-picked dubious or debunked assertions. Give people a wide range of information and a motivation to find a particular pattern, and humans really shine. A subset of this tendency is underway in Arizona. There, the Republican-controlled state Senate authorized a recount of ballots cast in Maricopa County last year. Maricopa is not only the largest county in Arizona, but it accounted for more than 60 percent of the votes cast in the state in 2020. Joe Biden won the county by about 45,000 votes while eking out a statewide victory by about 10,000. So the value in undercutting the results in Maricopa is clear: Drop 10,458 votes from that total into the shadow zone of uncertainty and the results in the state overall fall into the same space. And then: Who knows what? This theory is ascribed to by none other than Trump himself. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes,” Trump told a crowd at Mar-a-Lago last week. “So we’re going to watch that very closely. And after that, you’ll watch Pennsylvania and you’ll watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin. … Because this was a rigged election, everybody knows it.”
Arizona: Antifa fears, UV lights: What the group running GOP’s election audit tried to keep secret | Jane C. Timm/NBC
The private companies hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to recount millions of ballots from the 2020 election are concerned about possible Antifa attacks and planned to use UV lights to hunt for fraud, internal documents released as part of a legal battle with Democrats revealed. State Senate Republicans and the companies also initially sought National Guard protection for their review of Maricopa County ballots but were turned down by Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, according to one of the documents, which was released Thursday by the Maricopa Superior Court over GOP objections. A judge ruled on Friday that the security document, which was posted publicly to the court’s electronic docket on Thursday night, could be sealed by agreement of the parties. The documents offer a detailed look at the conspiratorial thinking behind an extraordinary partisan hunt for fraud some six months after former President Donald Trump lost the election and began pushing the lie that it was stolen from him. “It would be comical if it weren’t so scary,” Rick Hasen, an election law expert and a professor at the University of California, Irvine, said of the audit.
Arizona: Everything we know about who is funding the Maricopa election audit | By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror
The Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s election results is still underway and a number of pro-Trump and conspiracy-minded groups are raising money for it, though it is unclear how much money has been raised, how much the audit will cost and who will receive that money. Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm heading up the audit team, has refused to say who is paying it and how much they are paying. The Senate agreed to pay the company only $150,000 — an amount that Senate President Karen Fann acknowledged she knew was far short of what it would cost — and let it raise the rest from private sources, even though the Senate is sitting on a $3.5 million nest egg it could have used to pay for the audit. Ken Bennett, the Senate’s liaison to the auditors, has said he will “fight” to get information about private funding released, but he has also chided the public for questioning where the money is coming from, telling reporters “it doesn’t matter who paid for it.” Likewise, Fann told the Arizona Mirror that she wants the information on who is funding Arizona’s audit made public, but may be unable to force Cyber Ninjas to do so. The Senate’s contract with the company doesn’t mention outside funding or require that the firm disclose that information.
Arizona: Elections experts call on Justice Department to send monitors to Arizona audit | Max Greenwood/The Hill
A group of election security and administration experts are asking the Justice Department to send federal monitors to Arizona as the Republican-led state Senate carries out an audit of 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in the state’s 2020 presidential election. In a letter to the top official at the Justice Department’s voting section, five elections experts from the Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy and The Leadership Conference expressed deep concerns about how the audit is being conducted, warning that it has put ballots “in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irretrievably damaged.” “They failed to ensure the physical security of ballots by keeping doors unlocked and allowing unauthorized persons to access the ballot storage facility,” the letter reads. “They also risk compromising the integrity of the ballots themselves, using materials and technologies that will cause the ballot paper and marks to deteriorate, such as holding ballots to ultra-violet light without gloves. “And, by restricting access to the audit by nonpartisan observers, election administrators and voting machine experts, they are failing to ensure that the audit is transparent.” The letter also expresses concern that the state Senate and the firm it has hired to run the audit — a Florida-based company called Cyber Ninjas — “are preparing to engage in conduct that will constitute unlawful voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws.” At issue, they wrote, is a plan to “physically canvass” voters in Maricopa County as part of the audit, and to gather information related to their voting history.
Arizona: Cyber Ninjas releases its election audit policies after court order | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror
Following a judge’s ruling that the Arizona Senate’s election audit team can’t keep its policies and procedures secret, lead audit contractor Cyber Ninjas submitted nearly two hundreds pages to the court detailing its practices. The collection of policies and procedures covers guidelines for hand counting ballots, handling digital evidence, documenting chain-of-custody for ballots, rules of conduct for observers and other matters from Cyber Ninjas, as well as the subcontractors it’s working with. It also includes manifests for ballots and tabulation machines provided by Maricopa County election officials. The policies shed some light on the processes that auditors are using to count the ballots, a process being overseen by Wake Technology Services. Wake’s policies also describe the examination process for ballot, including checking the ballots for folds — early ballots are folded, while in-person ballots cast on election day aren’t — examining the thickness and feel of the paper, checking for discrepancies in the printing and scanning ballots with ultraviolet lights to “compare to representative specimens.” The policy documents don’t elaborate on what exactly the lights are supposed to show. Through Wednesday morning, audit employees had been shining UV lights on each ballot, though they haven’t been using the lights since later that afternoon. Auditors are also using technology purportedly invented by Jovan Pulitzer, an inventor and treasure hunter, that he says can detect fake ballots by examining the folds, or lack thereof, in the paper. Cyber Ninjas’ statement of work for the audit states that it will search for counterfeit ballots, despite a total lack of any evidence that any such ballots were counted in the 2020 general election. It’s unclear if all of the policies were drafted before the audit, or if some were implemented afterward. The documents state that policies on writing implements were updated after the audit began.
Arizona: ‘Crazy Times Carnival’ to take place on same grounds as election audit | Nicole Sadek/Arizona Republic
The Arizona State Fairgrounds announced Monday that a new carnival will kick off Thursday on the same grounds where a Maricopa County election audit is taking place. The “Crazy Times Carnival” is scheduled to run 11 nights outside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, where auditors are hand counting nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the November 2020 general election. Maintaining security at the coliseum has been a key concern during the audit. Jen Yee, a spokesperson for the fairgrounds, said the carnival will be fenced off, with the north lot set aside for audit parking. The fairgrounds marketing team brainstormed names for possible live events early in the pandemic “when the world first imploded,” Yee said. They came up with “Crazy Times Carnival” well before the Nov. 3 election or before anyone imagined a ballot recount happening inside the coliseum.
Arizona Election audit continues, but judge orders release of documents guiding the audit | Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror
The election audit ordered by Senate Republicans won’t be halted because Democrats shown that voter privacy has been violated, a judge ruled Wednesday. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin denied the Democrats’ request for a temporary restraining order, saying that they have not brought “substantive evidence” to prove voter privacy has or could be harmed by the audit. The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Democratic Supervisor Steve Gallardo filed the lawsuit to stop the audit. The original judge on the case ordered the audit to pause, but that didn’t happen because the Democrats were unwilling to pay the $1 million bond required. The judge initially assigned to the case, Christopher Coury, ruled last week that the auditors must comply with all laws governing the right to a secret ballot and the confidentiality of voter registration data, and to provide copies of all relevant policies and procedures to the court, which the audit team has never made public. He also ordered that the auditors use only red pens on the audit floor, an issue that came up after an Arizona Republic reporter who was working as a volunteer observer noted that the auditors were using blue pens. State election rules require that only red pens be used near ballots because the tabulation machines that are used to count them will read any markings made in blue or black ink. Coury recused himself from the case on April 25 after the law firm representing Cyber Ninjas told the court that one of its attorneys who had worked for Coury in the past would be joining the legal team. The case was then assigned to Martin.
Half a Year After Trump’s Defeat, Arizona Republicans Are Recounting the Vote | Michael Wines/The New York Times
It seemed so simple back in December. Responding to angry voters who echoed former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, Arizona Republicans promised a detailed review of the vote that showed Mr. Trump to have been the first Republican presidential nominee to lose the state since 1996. “We hold an audit,” State Senator Eddie Farnsworth said at a Judiciary Committee hearing. “And then we can put this to rest.” But when a parade of flatbed trucks last week hauled boxes of voting equipment and 78 pallets containing the 2.1 million ballots of Arizona’s largest county to a decrepit local coliseum, it kicked off a seat-of-the-pants audit process that seemed more likely to amplify Republican grievances than to put them to rest. Almost half a year after the election Mr. Trump lost, the promised audit has become a snipe hunt for skulduggery that has spanned a court battle, death threats and calls to arrest the elected leadership of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. The head of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm that Republican senators hired to oversee the audit, has embraced Mr. Trump’s baseless theories of election theft and has suggested, contrary to available evidence, that Mr. Trump actually won Arizona by 200,000 votes. The pro-Trump cable channel One America News Network has started a fund-raiser to finance the venture and has been named one of the nonpartisan observers that will keep the audit on the straight and narrow. In fact, three previous reviews showed no sign of significant fraud or any reason to doubt President Biden’s victory. But the senators now plan to recount — by hand — all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, two-thirds of the entire vote statewide.
After days of silence, on Tuesday journalists got limited access inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the Arizona Senate’s contractors are attempting to hand count all Maricopa County ballots cast in the November election. Officials with Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, the private contractor leading the audit, were not present in the press area to answer questions, including how many of the nearly 2.1 million ballots have been reviewed since the audit got underway Friday. Ken Bennett, the Senate’s liaison for the audit, spoke to the media in a news conference outside the state Capitol for the first time since Friday, but he said he did not know how many ballots had been counted. “I have an estimate of what the number is,” he told reporters, offering that just shy of 100,000 ballots had been tallied. Bennett said he was confident the count could be completed before the Senate’s lease on the coliseum ends May 14. “We’re on track to get the job done in the time that we have,” he said. While there have been numerous concerns raised about the security of ballots and private voter information, Bennett said they were “making sure that everything is very secure.” “There’s nothing happening there that would violate the identity of any voters or any privileged voter information,” he said.
Arizona: GOP-backed recount of Maricopa County ballots appears on track to move forward after initial pause ordered by judge | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post
An extensive effort to recount ballots from the November election moved forward in Phoenix on Friday as a private vendor hired by Republicans in the Arizona Senate began reviewing nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s largest county. The recount of the ballots from Maricopa County was sought by Senate Republicans to examine unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted President Biden’s win. Election officials and the courts have found no merit to such allegations, and the GOP-led county board of supervisors has objected to the recount. After state Democrats filed a lawsuit this week to halt the proceedings, an Arizona judge on Friday ordered that the recount be paused for the weekend to consider their allegations that the process violates state laws governing the security of ballots. However, he required that the Democratic Party post a $1 million bond to cover the potential costs of a delay. On Friday afternoon, the state party said it would not put up the money, meaning the recount is on track to press ahead. Earlier this week, Senate Republicans exercised a subpoena to move voting equipment and ballots from county storage to the floor of the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where they have said a team of private companies will spend the next four weeks conducting a hand recount of ballots and a forensic audit of voting machines. Senate leaders have said the process is intended only to explore ways to improve the state’s elections, rather than to cast doubt on Biden’s 10,457-vote victory in Arizona over Donald Trump. But the recount has come under sharp criticism from election observers, voting rights advocates and Democrats, who have said it lacks independent oversight and could be used to further baseless claims about the 2020 election.
Arizona: Election conspiracies live on with GOP audit | Jonathan J. Cooper and Bob Christie/Associated Press
Months after former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, legislative Republicans in Arizona are challenging the outcome as they embark on an unprecedented effort to audit the results in the state’s most populous county. The state Senate used its subpoena power to take possession of all 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County and the machines that counted them, along with computer hard drives full of data. They’ve handed the materials over to Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based consultancy with no election experience run by a man who has shared unfounded conspiracy theories claiming the official 2020 presidential election results are illegitimate. The process is alarming election professionals who fear the auditors are not up to the complex task and will severely undermine faith in democracy. “I think the activities that are taking place here are reckless and they in no way, shape or form resemble an audit,” said Jennifer Morrell, a partner at Elections Group, a consulting firm advising state and local election officials, which has not worked in Arizona. Conspiracy theories about the election have proliferated across the country even before President Joe Biden’s victory but have had particular staying power in Arizona, which flipped to the Democratic column for just the second time in 72 years. Trump on Friday predicted the audit would reveal fraud and would prompt similar reviews in other states he lost. “Thank you State Senators and others in Arizona for commencing this full forensic audit,” the former president said in a statement. “I predict the results will be startling!”
Full Article: Election conspiracies live on with audit by Arizona GOP
Arizona Republicans to begin auditing 2020 ballots in effort to undermine election results | Sam Levine/The Guardian
Nearly five months after Joe Biden was declared the official winner of the presidential race in Arizona, state Republicans are set to begin their own audit of millions of ballots, an unprecedented move many see as a thinly-veiled effort to continue to undermine confidence in the 2020 election results. The GOP-controlled state senate ordered the audit, set to formally get underway this week, which may be one of the most absurd and alarming consequences to date of Donald Trump’s baseless lies about the 2020 election. It will be executed by a private Florida-based company. It also reportedly will be supported from far-right lawyer Lin Wood and observers from the far-right news network One America News Network. The audit will be solely focused on Maricopa county, the largest in the state and home to a majority of Arizona’s voters. Biden narrowly defeated Trump in the county, a crucial battleground that helped the president win Arizona by around 10,000 votes. The audit will include a hand recount of all 2.1m ballots cast in the county, a process expected to take months. Trump and allies have claimed, without evidence, there was fraud in Maricopa county. But the county has already conducted two separate audits of the 2020 election and found no irregularities. The Republican decision to continue to investigate the results, months after they were certified by both county and state officials, extends the life of election conspiracy theories. The audit also comes as Arizona Republicans are advancing legislation in the state that would make it harder to vote by mail. “They’re trying to find something that we know doesn’t exist,” said Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, who serves as the state’s top election official. “It’s ludicrous that people think that if they don’t like the results they can just come in and tear them apart.”
Arizona judge orders pause in Republican-backed recount of ballots cast in Maricopa County last fall | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post
A judge in Arizona on Friday ordered a temporary pause in an extensive effort to recount ballots from the November election hours after the process began, citing concerns about whether a private vendor hired to review nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s largest county is complying with state laws governing election security. The recount of the ballots from Maricopa County is being conducted by Republicans in the state Senate to examine unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted President Biden’s win. Election officials and the courts have found no merit to such allegations, and the GOP-led county board of supervisors has objected to the recount. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury on Friday paused the audit from 5 p.m. Friday until Monday at noon in response to a suit filed by the state Democratic Party and the county’s only Democratic supervisor, who argued that the audit violates Arizona rules governing the confidentiality and security of ballots and voting equipment. “The lack of transparency around this ‘audit’ is astounding and we will not stand idly by as Senate President [Karen] Fann opens up our secure election to unqualified and completely unhinged actors who believe the ‘big lie,’ ” Raquel Terán, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement before the ruling. “This has gone far enough and we are hopeful that the courts will put an end to this embarrassing and dangerous circus.”
Arizona: ‘You want to see a temper tantrum?’: Republican sides with Democrats, blocks voting bill | Jane C. Timm/NBC
A bill that would stop some voters from getting a ballot automatically mailed to them each election failed unexpectedly in Arizona’s state Senate Thursday after a single Republican joined Democrats in voting against the legislation. GOP state Sen. Kelly Townsend explained her surprise “no” vote on the state Senate floor amid a tense episode that saw the senator get into a heated confrontation with the bill’s sponsor. “I am for this bill, but I am not voting for it until after the audit,” she said, referring to an audit orchestrated by Senate Republicans of ballots in Maricopa County reportedly set to get underway this week and last through mid-May. The audit is a continuation of GOP efforts to question the results of the 2020 election in a state President Joe Biden won by over 10,000 votes. His narrow victory prompted many Republicans to embrace former President Donald Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud. Some called for the Legislature to overrule Biden’s win and seat electors who would deliver the state to Trump instead. (State GOP leaders said the Legislature did not have that power, and Biden’s Electoral College victory was certified. In 2016, Trump won the key state of Michigan by about 10,000 votes.)
Arizona GOP prepares another audit of 2020 election in state’s largest county | Kristine Frazao/WCTI
Arizona was a state President Joe Biden wasn’t sure he’d win in the 2020 election. But in the end, Arizona voters chose him over former President Donald Trump by over 10,000 votes, a result determined by two independent audits in Maricopa County – the largest county in the state. Another audit is set to begin this week at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to once again count the 2.1 million ballots and search for discrepancies. But five months after the election, critics continue to warn the effort is highly partisan and a threat to democracy. “So really this audit only seems to serve to stoke the spires of conspiracy and partisan gamesmanship to be quite honest,” said C. Jay Coles, with Verified Voting, one of the four national voting rights groups to voice concern, particularly about the Florida-based firm Cyber Ninjas that was hired to lead the recount.
Arizona: Jovan Pulitzer, an icon among election fraud believers, will play a role in the election audit | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror
Jovan Pulitzer, a favorite of election fraud conspiracy theorists who claims to have invented technology that can detect fraudulent ballots and whom Georgia’s Republican secretary of state recently derided as a “failed inventor and a failed treasure hunter,” will have a role in the Senate’s audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County. The audit will seek to “identify any ballots that are suspicious and potentially counterfeit,” according to the statement of work for the lead contractor, Cyber Ninjas. Pulitzer’s name does not appear in the document. But Ken Bennett, Arizona’s former secretary of state who’s serving as a spokesman for the audit, confirmed his involvement, though he said he’s unsure whether Pulitzer himself will be involved or whether the audit team will only be using his technology that Pulitzer claims can detect fraudulent ballots. Pulitzer’s involvement comes despite any evidence whatsoever that fraudulent ballots were cast in the general election, despite a lack of confirmation that his technology works as he claims, and despite questions about his credibility. Bennett said Doug Logan, the owner and CEO of Cyber Ninjas, told him that he consulted with Pulitzer while designing the process used to test the ballots, a process that Bennett said will include other people’s technology as well. He said his understanding is that all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County will be examined. Bennett said the Senate has not independently verified that Pulitzer’s technology actually does what he claims, but that other election officials he’s spoken with over the years have described similar technologies. “So, it doesn’t strike me as odd at all that he may have some technology to do the same thing,” Bennett said.
Arizona: A cybersecurity expert who promoted claims of fraud in the 2020 election is leading the GOP-backed recount of millions of ballots | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post
The nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Ariz., last fall are currently packaged in 40 cardboard shrink-wrapped boxes and stacked on 45 pallets in a county facility in Phoenix known as “the vault,” due to its sophisticated security and special fire-suppression system. But on order of the Republican-led state Senate, the ballots and the county’s voting equipment are scheduled to be trucked away next week — handed over for a new recount and audit spurred by unsubstantiated claims that fraud or errors tainted President Biden’s win in Arizona’s largest county. The ballots will be scrutinized not by election officials, but by a group of private companies led by a private Florida-based firm, whose owner has promoted claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent and who has been cited as an expert by allies of former president Donald Trump seeking to cast doubt on the election in other parts of the country. Trump supporters, including a lawyer who volunteered with his post-election legal team, have been raising private dollars to supplement $150,000 in taxpayer money that has been earmarked to fund the Arizona recount.
Arizona audit leader Doug Logan wrote fraud claims on ‘kraken’ lawyer’s website | Jeremy Duda/Arizona Mirror
A document that conspiracy theorist attorney Sidney Powell posted on her website with various allegations against Dominion Voting Systems lists its author as Doug Logan, the man hired by Senate Republicans to lead the team that will audit the 2020 election in Maricopa County, including a thorough examination of that same company’s ballot tabulation machines. Powell is a one-time attorney for former President Donald Trump who became infamous for spreading false claims about election fraud and filing failed lawsuits attempting to overturn election results in several swing states that President Joe Biden won, including Arizona. She posted the document on a section of her website called, “Evidence of Fraud – 2020 Election.” The metadata for one of the documents, titled, “Election Fraud Facts & Details,” lists “Douglas Logan” as the author. Logan is the owner and CEO of Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm that Senate President Karen Fann chose to head up a team of companies that will conduct an audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, including a hand recount of all 2.1 million ballots cast. Among the various claims in the document is a debunked allegation that the “core software” used by Dominion originated with and is the intellectual property of Smartmatic, alleging the latter company was founded in Venezuela and has ties to Hugo Chavez, the country’s socialist dictator who died in 2013. It claims Smartmatic has been linked to election rigging in Venezuela, India and the Philippines. The paper that Logan authored alleges ties between Dominion and China, and repeats a discredited claim that the private equity firm that owns Dominion sold it to a Chinese-controlled securities company. Claims of ties between Dominion and Chinese investors were largely based on confusion between the similarly named New York and China-based subsidiaries of a Swiss securities company.
Arizona: He pushed lies to try to steal the election for Trump. Now he’s running an election audit. | Emily Singer/American Singer
Doug Logan, the man whose company Cyber Ninjas Arizona Republicans have tapped to oversee a third audit of the state’s 2020 election results, is the author of a lie-filled “fact” sheet that was intended for U.S. senators to use in justifying their objections to certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in January. The Arizona Mirror reported that the document, titled “Election Fraud Facts & Details,” was posted on ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s website. The document contains multiple lies about the voting machine software companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic USA, falsely alleging that the companies had ties to dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and that they rigged the machines to switch votes from Trump to Biden. Powell is being sued for making that claim, which has been debunked multiple times, including in a joint report issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. “We — the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, including CISA — have no evidence that any foreign government-affiliated actor prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner; altered any technical aspect of the voting process; or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information of any ballots cast during 2020 federal elections,” the departments reported. Logan told the Arizona Mirror that he did author the document that was on Powell’s website: “Some of it is based on my own research, but quite a bit is information I got from other people but personally vetted.” The selection of Cyber Ninjas by Arizona’s GOP Senate President Karen Fann to oversee the third audit of election results was announced on March 31. Two audits of the results have already found that there was no fraud.
Arizona: Voting rights groups: Tactics in election audit are illegal, intimidating | Howard Fischer/Arizona Daily Star
Tactics planned by 2020 election auditors hired by the Arizona Senate are illegal and even criminal, attorneys for various voter rights groups contend. And the groups might go to court to try to halt them. In a letter Tuesday to Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the lawyers said the plans — which include knocking on doors and contacting people — “constitute voter intimidation.” They said it’s irrelevant whether that is the intent, and even whether that’s part of the contract Logan signed late last month with Senate President Karen Fann. That contract involves having Cyber Ninjas and other firms knock on doors in Maricopa County to determine if people actually live at that address and validate that they did in fact cast a ballot in November. A copy of the scope of work obtained by Capitol Media Services shows that Cyber Ninjas did some of that in-person contact even before the contract was signed. And the document claims that work has “brought forth a number of significant anomalies suggesting significant problems in the voter rolls.” The same document says Cyber Ninjas and others working with the Florida firm will audit at least three voting precincts they have decided have “a high number of anomalies,” to “conduct an audit of voting history related to all members of the voter rolls.”
Arizona: Maricopa County board to Senate: Find another spot to recount ballots | Bob Christie/Associated Press
Maricopa County’s elected leaders aren’t interested in allowing a firm led by a backer of unfounded election fraud theories to use county facilities to recount 2.1 million ballots from November’s election as part of an audit that Arizona Senate’s Republican leaders plan to conduct. The decision by the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors came after the board met with its lawyers Thursday, a day after Senate President Karen Fann announced the auditors she had hired to try to show whether President Joe Biden’s victory was legitimate. It means Fann, who won a court order allowing access to the ballots and voting machines late last month, will need to find a secure location to do the recount. The board has never indicated it would let the Senate use its vote count center, but Fann repeatedly suggested she wanted to use the facility. Board Chairman Jack Sellers said in a Thursday evening statement that the board respects the “power of the Senate” and has been ready to comply with a subpoena to deliver the ballots and vote-counting equipment for more than a month. In a letter Sellers instructed to be sent to the Senate’s lawyer, the county’s lawyer said the county “stands ready” to deliver the ballots and tabulation equipment to the Senate or “a non-County owned location of the Senators’ choosing.” Meanwhile, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs fired off a letter to the county board expressing concerns about the company hired to lead the audit, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, and the contract that shows auditors will try to track down and question voters.
Arizona: ASOG, one of the Antrim County MI election report firms, is dropped by Arizona offiicals | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle
A Dallas-based firm tasked with conducting a court-sanctioned examination of Antrim County’s election equipment, was initially considered by Republican leadership in Arizona to assist with an audit there, then dropped over concerns about partisanship, records show. Antrim County, Michigan and Maricopa County, Arizona, both use Dominion Voting Systems election equipment and officials in both counties are embroiled in election-related lawsuits, which seek to question results of the 2020 election. Arizona’s Republican-led state senate won a lawsuit earlier this year, seeking to take possession of Maricopa County ballots for a forensic review, after a county-wide audit found no irregularities, the Arizona Mirror reported. State Senate President Karen Fann in February selected Allied Security Operations Group and an “ASOG scope of work” document was drafted, with a plan to pay the firm $10,000 for a forensic exam and a written report, as reported in the Arizona Mirror. ASOG in December provided similar services — though on a smaller scale — to Bill Bailey, a Central Lake Township man suing Antrim County. Bailey accuses the county of violating his constitutional rights, after he said in court filings Dominion Voting Systems equipment was intentionally error-prone or fraudulent — a characterization Dominion CEO John Poulos and election officials have said is false.