World Arizona’s ‘Cyber Ninjas’ Usher in New Era of Insane Ballot Attacks
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A private company led by aand concerned about is using and assessing the “ ” of paper ballots to determine—using and methodology —which votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, were supposedly fraudulently cast in November.
. That is why the results of the audit—ordered by the Republican majority of the state Senate, partially funded by , and being conducted by an —won’t reveal anything trustworthy about the accuracy or integrity of Arizona’s 2020 election. Rather, the partisan audit can only cause more damage to the public’s confidence in the vote.
Cindy McCain Slams 'Ludicrous' Arizona Recount After Trump Suggests It Will Reveal Stolen Election
The widow of the late GOP senator John McCain ridiculed the state Republican Party's massive and ongoing recount effort aimed at overturning President Joe Biden's November victory over Donald Trump. © FilmMagic/Getty Cindy McCain speaks at a veteran's gala in Los Angeles, California on November 05, 2019. Despite Trump's comment last week at Mar-a-Lago that the Arizona recount will be the first domino to fall, McCain noted that even the state Republicans refused to have their own party chairperson election audited. "The whole thing is ludicrous.
We are not simply watching the final heaves of Donald Trump’s “stop the steal” movement. Instead, this represents a new low in the extremes American politicians will go to in order to retain power, and is a glimpse at a new way the losing party could react to its electoral defeats.
The efforts of the auditors—led by a company actually called Cyber Ninjas —would be hilarious if their hiring by Republican state senators wasn’t suchto basic democratic standards. Their typo-riddled audit procedures were kept secret until a court required them to be made public and were developed by a man the Georgia secretary of state once called a “ .”
“The purpose of this process it (sic) to collect information about the ballot paper, ballot ink and selection marks on the physical ballot during the hand recount process,” it reads, then explains that fraud can be detected by examining the folds made by voters on the ballot itself. Early absentee ballots are folded, while in-person ballots cast on election day aren’t, they claim, concluding that if a ballot cast on Election Day is folded, bang boom, it must be a fraud. But in reality, creases on a ballot don’t prove anything about their validity. Provisional ballots cast on election day, for example, are folded. And early absentee ballots may not be folded at all, especially if a voter presented at a polling location and asked for a new ballot—many voters do this after making mistakes—and cast their ballot then. That “mailed” ballot submitted in person would not be folded at all.
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So Cyber Ninjas will determine hundreds of legally cast ballots are fraudulent based on creases, many of which could have happened after the vote was officially audited by handby the county’s actual auditors. We don’t know how or if this group is taking these entirely reasonable creases into consideration, or distinguishing them from more maleficent folds—their extremely limited explanation of their procedures omitted such details. All this, and those UV lights they are using to find these creases degrade the paper, making it thin and yellow.
Contrast Cyber Ninjas with auditors employed by the counties and the secretary of state, who must follow legally mandated procedures for forensic examinations of ballots and are held criminally responsible if they do not. Because the Senate hastily demanded the audit through subpoena without the cooperation of the county or state, there is essentially no regulatory framework for performing such an examination. So, no such restrictions apply to these cosplaying auditors, who have been given a free pass to do what they wish. Firms hired to do audits of election hardware and ballots are generally accredited by the Election Assistance Commission or are Certified Public Accounting firms well-versed in technical specifications and audit organization. No such credentials are held by Cyber Ninjas.
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For example, state law demands that only red pen—which cannot be read by tabulation machines—be used by auditors to make necessary marks on ballots or other election materials. But auditors, a local reporter named Jen Fifield found,, thereby contaminating the very ballots they seek to determine were cast fraudulently using folds and errant markings as incriminating evidence. When Fifield raised this violation with Cyber Ninjas’ CEO, it he had no understanding of the rule. And while the auditors have routinely pledged to keep the ballots organized, clean and in the same condition they were given to them, the documentation the court has forced them to produce (after they initially refused to release anything) details scant organizational procedures and no understanding of the county’s methods.
There are also far more bizarre physical security problems. The fairgrounds outside the arena where the audit is happening also hosts—I kid you not— “,” which is expecting hundreds of visitors for the fried food offerings, rides and carnival games. As mentioned in a sent by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, to the auditors, the ballots are frequently left accessible on the floor, and the protected ballots are surrounded by an eight-foot chain link fence with no roof, leaving them accessible to essentially anyone with the gumption to get to them. The live feed also shows that there are flying around the arena. Use your imagination, but those ballots aren’t returning in the same condition.
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All the while, a self-styled “audit committee” has maintained a stream-of-consciousness Twitter account, which declared the audit to be “the most comprehensive forensic election audit in the history of our galaxy!”
This is the most comprehensive forensic election audit in the history of our galaxy! Everything from voter history and voting machines to paper ballot counts.— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit)
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Even the Senate Republicans’ own liaison to the audithe cannot control the account nor the information it shares. “We are defining the standards of what gets tweeted out, and how do we keep that more factual based,” he said. That Twitter account is among the only windows into the shrouded way Cyber Ninjas have performed the audit, as they refused to permit access to reporters or even observers from the secretary of state’s office until that they must be allowed. There is for this audit, which will have to pause later this month so that the event space can be used for graduations for several Phoenix high schools. Where will the 2.1 million ballots be stored to prevent them from being tampered with by any of the thousands of visitors expected in the arena? The Cyber Ninjas haven’t explained.
California’s Recall Law Is Broken
It doesn’t make sense in an era of unrelenting partisan conflict. The law was instituted during the Progressive era as a tool to tame special interests, but the effort against Newsom suggests that it’s become a weapon of harassment and manipulation by Republicans. The GOP constitutes a minority in the state, where Democrats hold all major statewide offices and supermajorities in both legislative chambers, and where Joe Biden buried Donald Trump by more than 5 million votes last year.
The only reason we know about these extraordinary details and problematic procedures is because of local reporters, who havethis process and onto a process that should have been inherently transparent from the beginning. This is the core function of local journalism, and these reporters are filling that role admirably at a crucial time that is still being underplayed by national politicians. And while the audit has received consistent coverage in national outlets, local journalists know the local regulations better and simply have better access than journalists at national media do. Among the highlights of these journalists and their work:
- is providing coverage for the AZ Mirror, a nonprofit newsroom that has provided free content on this issue (and everything else!) for dozens of other news organizations. He first that the head of the team hired to do the audit, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, wrote a document of false talking points for Republican members of Congress who planned to dispute the results of the election ahead of the insurrection. It was shared by Sidney Powell. Tammy Patrick, once an elections official in Maricopa County and currently an elections expert with the Democracy Fund, called him the “canary in the coal mine, the first on the scene.” We know all that we know about this, in part, because of Jeremy’s determined work.
- , who is covering this circus for KPNX TV, has become a on TV programming across the country, keeping us updated and breaking crucial news by making this a central focus of his program He, like Jeremy, has been covering this well .
- is reporting , and her discovery of the use of blue pens spurred the hashtag . Her reporting was central to initially determining how out of whack this audit was with normal standards, and her work fighting for transparency radically increased public awareness.
- and at ABC 15 broke the story on Tuesday that volunteer auditors were being nondisclosure agreements as a condition of their work. They have been tenaciously covering all of the ins and outs of the lawsuits and controversies over this nuanced issue, which is often hard to do in TV format.
It is unprecedented state issues such as this that prove the value of local journalism. Not only in covering ongoing events, but by actively uncovering malfeasance and wrongdoing and forcing light into rooms that were intentionally darkened. These journalists, and a dozen others, are a necessary part of an informed electorate and a functioning democracy.
Arizona's Ex-GOP AG Grant Woods Calls Election Audit a 'Clown Show' and 'a Joke'
The former Republican official said those conducting the recount "have no idea what they're doing."Woods, a former Republican who switched his party affiliation to become a Democrat in 2018, served as the attorney general of Arizona from 1991 to 1999. Like a number of other prominent Republicans, Woods was staunchly opposed to former President Donald Trump and described him as the "least qualified ever" ahead of the 2016 presidential election. On Friday, Woods took aim at the ongoing election audit in Arizona which was launched based on Trump's groundless claims that the 2020 election was "rigged" or "stolen" by Democrats and President Joe Biden.
Their coverage points to an: that partisan audits may become the norm in elections, a new tool in the toolkit alongside overly strict , shrinking numbers of , insidious and objectively used to even when the electorate chooses to .
Washington Secretary of State Kym Wyman, a Republican, expressed grave concern about the future of her own party at a panel hosted by thethis week. “Trump suppressed his own voters” in 2020 with his rhetoric around mailed ballots and his distrust of the system, she said. This audit only furthers that skepticism.
“I don’t know how the Republican Party realigns if it continues down this path.” said Matt Masterson, a Republican who is the former head of election security for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. While Russia, China and Iran pursued intense misinformation campaigns aimed at undermining Americans’ confidence in the election, Masterson said they are all sitting back and “watching us do it to ourselves."
Trump, in media appearances from Mar-a-Lago this week, has praised the audit and hinted he may call for more,to a crowd there as his roadmap back to Pennsylvania Avenue. “I think it’s going to be incredible. I think it’s going to be eye-opening,” Trump on Dan Bongino’s podcast. “Because I have no question we won Arizona. We had rallies, we had such enthusiasm like nobody’s ever seen anything like it. And then all of a sudden, we lose. People couldn’t believe it.”
Rallies, of course, don't confirm whose ballots were validly cast and accurately counted. Official, nonpartisan auditors do. But Trump’s anti-election allies have found a way to try to subvert the authority of the election audit system, by replacing it with an extralegal process where an unqualified company run by a conspiracy theorist is handling and making determinations about the legitimacy of ballots. If the partisan audit ends up delegitimizing Arizona’s election results, the strategy could catch on, unless Americans—informed by vigilant local reporting—see through these undemocratic maneuvers.
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