Arizona GOP audit delayed after Cyber Ninjas members contract COVID-19

A dubious review of millions of ballots cast in Arizona’s largest county will be delayed after three members of the company involved in the effort contracted COVID-19, according to a top Republican state lawmaker.

The firm, Cyber Ninjas, had been expected to hand over findings Monday from its chaotic and widely criticized review of 2020 presidential election ballots cast in Maricopa County, but that timeline will be pushed back after a majority of its team became “quite sick.”

“The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick,” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said in a statement.

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Fann said lawmakers had received “a portion of the draft report” and that members of the Arizona Senate’s legal team would meet Wednesday to begin the process of reviewing the draft “for accuracy, clarity and proof of documentation of findings.”

The partisan “audit” has been dogged by questions over its competence and validity since March when the Senate, without a bid process, signed Cyber Ninjas, whose chief executive had spread misinformation about the 2020 election before his hiring.

The Florida-based cybersecurity firm was selected despite the company having no prior experience in conducting election audits and after an experienced election audit firm had offered its services.  

Several of the Arizona Republicans who voted to authorize the audit have come to regret their votes and have publicly criticized the process. Additionally, a bipartisan duo of top election administrators in Arizona have issued scathing condemnations ahead of Cyber Ninjas’ forthcoming final report.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) in separate reports castigated the inspection itself as deeply flawed — so much so that Hobbs argued it did not even merit the term “audit.”

“Despite frequent references to this review as an audit, the exercise undertaken by the Arizona Senate’s Florida-based contractor, Cyber Ninjas, fails to meet industry standards for any credible audit, much less for an election audit,” Hobbs’s office wrote. “The Senate’s contractors demonstrated a lack of understanding of election processes and procedures both at a state and county level.”

Biden, the first Democrat since former President Clinton to win Arizona’s electoral votes, carried the state by just under 11,000 votes, or about three-tenths of a percentage point. He won Maricopa County, home of Phoenix and about two-thirds of the state’s registered voters, by 45,000 votes.

Updated at 4:40 p.m.