State Watch

Arizona elections officials launch bipartisan assault on GOP audit

Two of Arizona’s top election administrators have issued scathing indictments of a contractor who audited millions of ballots cast in the state’s largest county.

The two officials are seeking to undercut a final report from Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Arizona’s Republican-controlled state Senate, that they say will be marred by deep flaws. Cyber Ninjas is expected to deliver its initial report Monday on the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in last year’s presidential election.

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.”

Hobbs detailed alleged flaws in security and transparency, as well as basic tabulation and procedural errors that are likely to lead to a miscount. The outcomes Cyber Ninjas will report, Hobbs’s office said, “are unreliable.”

Richer, the Maricopa County recorder who beat an incumbent Democrat in the same election the state Senate is disputing, framed his objections as an open letter to fellow Republicans.

“Nobody stole Maricopa County’s elections. Elections in Maricopa County aren’t rigged,” Richer wrote, citing statements from Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), former Attorney General William Barr and several attorneys representing former President Trump.

“I believe in the court system. I believe in facts and logic. I believe that Maricopa County has many safeguards against widespread fraud. I believe in the simple, straight-forward, data-backed explanation that Trump lost many Republican voters in affluent areas,” Richer wrote. “Accordingly, I know Joe Biden won Maricopa County.”

Hobbs, Richer and others who object to the Senate-ordered review have been particularly critical of Cyber Ninjas and its chief executive, Doug Logan, who spread misinformation about the 2020 election before the firm was hired. The Senate signed Cyber Ninjas, a firm with no experience in conducting election audits, without a bid process, even though an experienced election audit firm had offered its own services.

A spokesman for the companies overseeing the audit, former Arizona Republican Party chairman Randy Pullen, rejected the Hobbs and Richer reports.

“Cannot think of two people with less understanding and knowledge on election audits,” Pullen wrote in a text message Monday.

Several of the Arizona Republicans who voted to authorize the audit have come to regret their votes and have publicly criticized the process.

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.

Tags 2020 presidential election Arizona Arizona audit Bill Clinton Cyber Ninjas Donald Trump Doug Ducey Joe Biden William Barr

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