Arizona “Fraudit”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Arizona audit of the votes in Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located), which is a third recount of the ballots called for by the Republican Arizona Senate. However, instead of a nonpartisan organization, the Arizona Senate hired an organization called Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity firm based in Florida.

Karen Fann, the Arizona Senate President, said of Cyber Ninjas, “These guys are well qualified, well experienced.” However, GOP consultants in Florida have disagreed, saying they have never heard of Cyber Ninjas. (In fact, this is the first audit they have ever conducted.) One thing is sure, however. Cyber Ninjas is a profoundly biased organization.

Dominion Voting Systems put out a statement that partially said, “Publicly available information shows that they are led by conspiracy theorists and QAnon supporters who have helped spread The Big Lie.” Indeed, Doug Logan, the head of the firm, has confirmed this on his Twitter. In December, he retweeted, “I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast,” and then again, “With all due respect, if you can’t see blatant cheating, malfeasance, and outright voter fraud, then you are either ignorant or lying.” Finally, he retweeted, “77% of Republicans rightfully believe they had their votes stolen.” He also retweeted Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and Ron Watkins before deleting his Twitter in January.

It’s also important to note that some of the members of Cyber Ninjas were present at the January 6 insurrection.

Maricopa County used Dominion Voting Systems machines, which, despite rumors of being made in Venezuela, are made in America. They have a voter-verified paper trail for every vote. They use two-factor authentication that requires a physical key, and the Dominion voting machines do not connect to the internet. Two audits previously done in Maricopa County have found that the election results were accurate, with Biden winning 50.3% of the vote or by 45,109 votes in the county.

Quite frankly, this audit, or as I like to call it, “fraudit,” is a sham meant to continue to create doubt into the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s presidency. Republican Steven Richer, the Maricopa County Recorder, denied the Arizona Senate’s accusations that the county may have deleted data after Trump said they had, stating, “Wow. This is unhinged. I’m literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. Right now. We can’t indulge in these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country. This is as readily falsifiable as 2+2=5.”

Even an Arizona Republican State Senator who initially supported the audit now regrets it. “It makes us look like idiots. Looking back, I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a State Senator at this point,” state Senator Paul Boyer told The New York Times. One official says that their “state has become a laughingstock. Worse, this ‘audit’ is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.”

Indeed, it has made Arizona become a laughingstock. Earlier during the audit, an official helping oversee the audit described how they were using UV light to find traces of bamboo fibers to prove that over 45,000 ballots were shipped from China.

Bamboo obviously grows in places other than China or South Korea. It grows in my neighborhood. Also, it’s evident that the exact number of votes Joe Biden won by was not sent in by China. But let’s pretend they were for a second. China would have to know which 45,000 people weren’t going to vote, reconstruct a perfect replica of the ballot (using bamboo?), vote for Joe Biden and a Democratic Senator, but ensure that they voted for Republicans on the down-ballot. (It’s important to note that Cyber Ninjas are only auditing the Presidential and Senate races, but not the down-ballot races that Republicans won.) It would be impossible for China or South Korea to pull that off.

Another critical element to worry about is the funding for the audit. Some are coming from taxpayers and right-wing groups. One America News is one of the largest fundraisers. However, the audit is not required to disclose where their fundraising is coming from, leading some to be concerned that some money could be coming from foreign nations.

Audits also usually have representatives from both parties present to inspect ballots, but it doesn’t seem like that’s happening in Maricopa County. 70% of observers are Republicans. The remaining 30% are made up of independents, Libertarians, and Democrats. Jennifer Morrell, a national expert on post-election audits and a partner at The Elections Group, says she has never seen an audit that is “so mismanaged” after a decade working on elections and audits.

She says she “observed other auditors working on a ‘forensic paper audit,’ flagging ballots as ‘suspicious’ for a variety of reasons. One was presidential selection: If someone thought the voter’s choice looked as though it had been marked by a machine, thy flagged it as ‘anomalous.’ Another was ‘missing security markers.’ (It’s virtually impossible for a ballot to be missing its security markers since voting equipment is designed to reject ballots without them.) The third was paper weight — the forensics tables had scales for weighing ballots, though I never saw anyone use them — and texture. Volunteers scruitinized ballots for, of all things, bamboo fibers…” Morell observed several other auditing mistakes that are worth reading about.

She concluded that “what [she] saw in Arizona shook [her]. If the process wraps up and Cyber Ninjas puts together some kind of report, that report will almost certainly claim that there were issues with Maricopa County’s ballots. After all, Cyber Ninjas chief executive Doug Logan has publicly voiced his wild conjecture about the 2020 election. But the real problem is the so-called audit itself.

“Audits are supposed to make our elections more secure and transparent — to strengthen the public’s trust in our democratic process. Maricopa County is known for having some of the best election practices in the country: Officials had already undertaken a hand-count audit and a forensic audit of their 2020 ballots and found no evidence of fraud. Now a group with no expertise, improvising procedures as it goes, is sowing doubt about the result of a well-run election.

“This is not an audit, and [she doesn’t] see how this can have a good outcome.”

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) (who is now under protection for receiving so many death threats) also makes an excellent point. “If they were conducting a real audit, there would be a willingness for bipartisan participation, but they’re not. Now that they’re blatantly recruiting partisans, there’s no confidence in this at all. It is not independent; it is completely biased, being run by people who have already said that Donald Trump won Arizona with no evidence to back that up,” Hobbs said. “These are folks with a highly partisan agenda who aren’t based in reality.”

She also pointed out, “This has been designed in a way to create this doubt and to be able to put out misinformation and not be honest with the public about what they found. A really key piece of any audit is that you can replicate your results, and they’re creating results that are not going to be replicable by anyone else who wanted to do the same thing again.”

However, more Republicans in Arizona have made news standing up against this audit than Democrats.

Paul Boyer called it “a gift to the Democratic Party. If my own…party leaders are sowing distrust in the electoral process through this, whatever this outcome is, I think you’re going to see less turnout by Republicans.”

“They lost, and they can’t get over it,” said Grant Woods, a former Republican Arizona attorney general who became a Democrat during Trump’s presidency. “And they don’t want to get over it because they want to continue to sow doubt about the election.”

“I’m very concerned this has ramifications for every state in the country,” Kim Wyman, a Republican who serves as secretary of state in Washington state, said in an interview. “This is politicizing an administrative process with no real structure or laws or rules in place to guide how it goes.” She added, “Every time in the future the party in control loses, they will use some post-election administrative process to call it into question, and people will no longer have confidence that we have fair elections.”

The Maricopa Supervisory Board, primarily Republicans, has also spoken out, demanding the audit be called off. “You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call ‘kinematic artifacts.’ None of these things are done in a serious audit. The result is that the Arizona Senate is held up to ridicule in every corner of the globe, and our democracy is imperiled.”

Unfortunately, while previous audits have not uncovered voter fraud, this voter audit has not been called off. In addition, Georgia’s Fulton County (where Atlanta is located) has been green-lit for an audit itself from a judge on May 21, 2021. This follows three audits, including a hand recount, that Georgia already conducted last year.

To repeat Paul Boyer and Kim Wyman:

“Worse, this ‘audit’ is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.”

“Every time in the future the party in control loses, they will use some post-election administrative process to call it into question, and people will no longer have confidence that we have fair elections.”

I personally believe that they will continue counting until they “find” enough votes to say that Trump won or lose enough votes to say that Biden lost. I don’t believe there will ever be a truthful end to this audit.

This audit based on The Big Lie of fraudulent votes is a perilous precedent. Our country and our elections are at risk. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Citations and Other Resources

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