Arizona judge orders Cyber Ninjas to preserve all records in 2020 election audit

An Arizona judge on Wednesday ruled that Cyber Ninjas, the company leading the GOP-backed election audit in Arizona, must preserve all records from their process so they can be released to the public, the Arizona Republic reported.

The order was made in a case brought forward by the Republic. There are currently two lawsuits seeking the release of these records, with another brought forward by the group American Oversight, which is suing the Arizona state Senate.

Cyber Ninjas had argued that records connected to their audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County are not subject to Arizona's Public Records Law which would require them to be disclosed. The Republic is arguing that since the audit is being conducted under the orders of the state Senate, the records must be made public.

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However, the Republic noted that Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah did not order Cyber Ninjas to immediately disclose their records, as a similar order from a different judge had recently been placed on hold by the Arizona Supreme Court. As such, Hannah ordered that records be preserved until litigation is settled.

"All defendants, including Cyber Ninjas, are ordered to carefully secure, protect and preserve from deterioration, mutilation, loss or destruction any and all records in their custody, possession or control that are reasonably necessary or appropriate to maintain an accurate knowledge of their official activities concerning the 2020 Maricopa County election audit, including records of the performance, funding and staffing of said audit," he wrote in his ruling.

Earlier in August, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that contractors leading the audit must turn over their documents as part of American Oversight's lawsuit against the state legislature.

"The Senate defendants, as officers and a public body under the [records law], have a duty to maintain and produce public records related to their official duties," the judges wrote in their ruling. 

"This includes the public records created in connection with the audit of a separate governmental agency, authorized by the legislative branch of state government and performed by the Senate’s agents."