Arizona’s false audit report due to GOP-led Senate on Monday

Election experts from both parties have said for months that the results of the so-called “audit” – conducted by Florida-based company Cyber ​​Ninjas, which had no experience auditing election results and is led by a man who has repeated wild conspiracy theories on voter fraud – will not be credible.
The company and its volunteers and contractors did not follow standard audit procedures. Observers from Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office have repeatedly noted instances in which auditors broke their own rules.
And the partisan nature of the audit and its backers – $ 5.7 million came from external and conservative sources, compared to just $ 150,000 from the Arizona State Senate, which ordered the audit. – has long cast serious doubt on its credibility.
Regardless of the audit results, the reality that Joe Biden is president and won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes last year will not change. But that hasn’t stopped former President Donald Trump and his allies – especially far-right and pro-Trump propaganda outlets – from claiming the opposite and saying that other states should follow suit. Arizona in conducting audits. Trump issued a series of false statements ahead of a campaign-style rally in the state last month, and used the rally to repeat those lies.

“Does everyone here understand that the 2020 election was a total disgrace?” Trump said.

Trump allies attempted to export Arizona’s audit to other states – including Pennsylvania, where a state senator sought to conduct his own review of each county’s results but was rejected by those counties, and Wisconsin, where Republican lawmakers are pursuing several approaches but have given heads on which avenues to pursue.

Handing over the report to state senators on Monday does not mean that it will immediately be made public. Instead, Senate Republicans and their representatives plan to review it. Ken Bennett, the Senate’s liaison with the audit team, said last week that a group would spend the following “days or weeks” verifying and “verifying the accuracy” of the report.

Bennett told CNN he wanted to “broadcast facts, not rumors” that this would only be a draft report and would not be made public. The Senate team will review the report and may seek further clarification from Cyber ​​Ninjas on its findings.

“The Senate team will then review the accuracy and clarity of the final report that will be made public,” Senate Speaker Karen Fann, a Republican, tweeted last week.

Warnings about “unreliable” conclusions

The finalization of the audit – and the possibility that the report detailing its results will soon become public – has led Republican and Democratic election officials in Arizona, including GOP officials in Maricopa County, to warn that it will not shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state and Democratic 2022 gubernatorial candidate, also released a 46-page report pre-empting the results of the audit.

“It is clear that any reported ‘outcome’ or ‘conclusion’ of the Senate review, by the Cyber ​​Ninjas or any of their contractors or partners, are unreliable,” Hobbs report says. .

The report calls the Senate recount “secret and disorganized”. He reiterates most of the problems Hobbs cited for months; lack of security, changes in ballot selection and counting processes, chain of custody and transparency issues.

Time and again, the report notes that there were no consistent procedures for reading ballots, counting ballots, and storing ballots. One person working through the paper in the ballots complained that the process was changing “every day, every day!”

In one example, a Senate subcontractor told observers that after a week, the scanning of paper ballots “had been scrapped because the subcontractors had performed a software update which resulted in the loss of all images of the ballot papers “.

Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County recorder – a Republican whose 2020 victory was one of the few GOP gains in the state as they lost the presidential race and a Senate seat – posted a letter of 38 pages titled “Dear Arizona Republicans” last week.

In the letter, Richer, who has become a vocal critic of the Cyber ​​Ninjas audit, details his own political history as a staunch Republican who voted for Trump, and explains the missteps that listeners and Republicans alike. Senate who hired them committed which led him to respond forcefully, including refuted allegations of criminal acts posted on a Twitter account maintained by the audit team.

Richer notes that three post-election partial audits of Maricopa County’s results have found them accurate.

He also said he would still be willing to conduct a review of the 2020 election to allay Republicans’ concerns, and would do so with Fann and GOP lawmakers – if they ditch Cyber ​​Ninjas.

“What I’m not prepared to do is give in more to the partisan, inexperienced, incompetent, conspiracy theory and unscrupulous Cyber ​​Ninjas,” said Richer.

He wrote that the audit “is an abomination which has so far eroded electoral confidence and vilified the right people.”

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