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DOJ: Arizona recount could violate civil rights laws

The Department of Justice on Wednesday issued a warning regarding the Arizona audit of 2020 election ballots in Maricopa County, saying it could be violating both federal voting and civil rights laws, CNN reports.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division, warned Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) that giving election material to Cyber Ninjas — the Florida-based contractor conducting the audit — might be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

Apart from this possible civil rights violation, Karlan said there are "at least issues of potential non-compliance with federal laws enforced by the Department."

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The first noncompliance issue, according to Karlan, has to do with reports that election materials, systems and ballots in Maricopa County are "no longer under the ultimate control of state and local election officials and are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed."

CNN notes that federal law requires that state and local officials maintain election materials for 22 months. Maricopa County had refused to participate in a recount ordered by the Arizona Senate.

"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," Karlan added.

Karlan also raised concerns of voter intimidation regarding Cyber Ninja's methods of voter authentication, such as canvassing, CNN reports.

"The Department enforces a number of federal statutes that prohibit intimidation of persons for voting or attempting to vote," Karlan wrote. "Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act."

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The Hill has reached out to Fann for a response to Karlan's letter.

Cyber Ninjas has no previous experience with elections, describing itself on its website as specializing in “all areas of application security, ranging from your traditional web application to mobile or thick client applications.”

Concerns have been raised about tweets made by the company's chief executive, Doug Logan, that spread conspiracy theories regarding the election in Arizona.

Multiple prior audits have shown that the vote was counted accurately and that voter machines had not been tampered with. Arizona state senators have said that the current audit, partially funded by taxpayers, will not reverse the election results in Arizona, having been certified months ago.

The audit of Maricopa County has been criticized by both Republican and Democratic political figures. Cindy McCain, a prominent Arizona Republican and wife of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Arizona AG Mark Brnovich launches Senate challenge to Mark Kelly Arizona Democrats launch voter outreach effort ahead of key Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.), on Sunday called the audit "ludicrous."

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"The election is over. [President] Biden won," McCain said while appearing on CNN's "State of the Union." "I know many of them don't like the outcome, but, you know, elections have consequences."

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has also lambasted the GOP-backed audit, calling it "such a farce."

"A group of Republicans are continuing to try to appease their base who refuse to accept that ... Trump lost Arizona and that he's not the president anymore," Hobbs told CNN's Chris CuomoChris CuomoCNN insults #MeToo movement, provides happy ending for Jeffrey Toobin Club for Growth bashes CNN in social media ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden, Capito meet today as deadline looms MORE.