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Politics Founder of firm hired to conduct Arizona election audit promoted election fraud theories

12:25  01 april  2021
12:25  01 april  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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The head of a Florida-based technology company who has used social media to promote a range of unfounded election fraud claims and was involved with a previous effort to overturn election results in Michigan has been hired by the Arizona Senate to oversee the recount of 2.1 million general election ballots.

a close up of a printer: Mail-in ballots are tabulated at the Maricopa County elections headquarters in Phoenix on Oct. 20.  Rob Schumacher/The Republic Mail-in ballots are tabulated at the Maricopa County Elections Headquarters in Phoenix on Oct. 20, 2020. © Rob Schumacher/The Republic, Rob Schumacher/The Republic Mail-in ballots are tabulated at the Maricopa County elections headquarters in Phoenix on Oct. 20. Rob Schumacher/The Republic Mail-in ballots are tabulated at the Maricopa County Elections Headquarters in Phoenix on Oct. 20, 2020.

The company, called Cyber Ninjas, will lead a team that includes three other firms as part of a $150,000 contract the Senate has awarded to conduct an unprecedented audit of the election results in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous county.

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But a deleted Twitter account that appears to belong to Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan suggests he has already made up his mind about the security of Arizona's elections. It includes a litany of unsubstantiated allegations about fraud in the last election.

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"I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast," said one post he shared from another Twitter user around the end of 2020.

He also appears to have shared posts by Sidney Powell, an attorney who supported former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the election results, and U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a prominent proponent of conspiracy theories about the last election.

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Logan was also involved in efforts to try to prove there was election fraud in Antrim County, Michigan, according to an Antrim County court document.

He was part of a team that examined the county’s voting machines and claimed in a report that they found errors designed to create fraud. State and county officials said the report was biased and identified a slew of problems with the team's analysis.

That team included a member of Allied Security Operations Group, a firm with connections to the Trump campaign's efforts to overturn election results in several states.

More: Arizona Senate hires firms to recount 2.1 million ballots in state's biggest county

Senate President Karen Fann at first considered hiring Allied Security Operations Group to do the Senate’s audit, but changed her mind after she said she realized that they would not be considered impartial.

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For the Antrim County report, Logan reviewed the “forensics images” obtained from the Antrim County computer system, Dominion Voting Systems documents, and other evidence, according to the court document.

While the Twitter account bearing Logan's name and photo was deleted, old posts from earlier this year remain archived online.

"The parallels between the statistical analysis of Venezuela and this year's election are astonishing," Logan wrote in a December post.

Another post he shared from a different Twitter user read, "With all due respect, if you can't see the blatant cheating, malfeasence and outright voter fraud, then you are ignorant or lying."

Neither Logan nor the company immediately responded to requests for comment from The Arizona Republic on Wednesday.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, speaks to the media in Phoenix on May 26, 2020. © Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, speaks to the media in Phoenix on May 26, 2020.

Fann said she was confident in the firms, however.

"These guys are well qualified, well experienced," Fann said. She did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about the Twitter account that appeared to belong to Logan.

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Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement on Wednesday that he was "not familiar with any of the firms" the Senate has hired.

"Elections are complicated and highly regulated operations," he wrote. "Maricopa County hired certified experts to conduct its audits and examinations of equipment. I hope the auditors hired by the Senate will take great care with your ballots and the election equipment leased with your tax dollars."

Sellers said he has not had discussions with Fann regarding the use of county facilities to do the audit.

Other firms involved in audit

Cyber Ninjas' LinkedIn page says it was founded in 2013 and employs between two and 10 people.

The company’s ninja-themed website says it specializes in “all areas of application security, ranging from your traditional web application to mobile or thick client applications.” That includes ethical hacking, training and general consulting.

There is no mention of whether the company has experience working on elections or voting systems.

Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, an inventor lauded by Trump supporters, said Wednesday that his technology will be used in the audit. Pulitzer has claimed fraudulent ballots were cast in the election and that his technology can detect them.

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The audit team also will include CyFIR LLC, Digital Discovery and Wake Technology Services Inc.

CyFIR is a digital security company based in Ashburn, Virginia. Ben Cotton is the founder. His biography indicates he spent 21 years in the U.S. Army Special Forces, and previously served as a board member at Brigham Young University.

The company’s chief executive is Andrew Ward, who spent 26 years as a partner at PriceWaterHouseCoopers, according to his biography.

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The company declined a request for an interview about their qualifications to conduct the Arizona audit.

“By contractual agreement, we are unable to speak with the press regarding this topic until the audits are complete,” CyFIR Chief Product Officer John Irvine said.

The company was involved in discovering and investigating a high-profile cyberattack on the U.S. government several years ago.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported Cotton’s affiliated company, CyTech Services, discovered that a federal database was breached while it was performing a demonstration for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, which maintains employee records and background checks for the government. It was performing the demonstration with its software, CyFIR Enterprise.

Cotton told the Journal that the company was running a diagnostic on the OPM network and discovered malware, which OPM later said it had previously discovered on its own.

CyFIR, upon the federal government’s request, began “providing significant incident response and forensic support to OPM related to the 2015 incident,” according to a subsequent report on the events from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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CyFIR has continued to work with the federal government since then.

In announcing the hiring, the Senate said members from another one of the firms, Wake Technology Services, have performed hand-count audits in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, and in New Mexico, and have assisted in election fraud investigations since the 1990s.

Neither Wake Technology Services nor Digital Discovery responded to inquiries from The Republic.

What the companies were hired to do

The Senate said the scope of work includes scanning all of the ballots, a full manual recount of the 2.1 million ballots cast in the election, auditing the registration and votes cast as well as the vote counts and the electronic voting system.

Fann said Senate leadership will not have direct involvement in the audit and that the firms will issue a report in about 60 days.

It remains unclear whether the Senate will take custody of the county's ballots or if the county will retain control of them.

Fann said that the Senate does not yet have an agreement with Maricopa County on whether the work will happen at county facilities.

"We'd rather keep everything secure where it is so there are zero questions about chain of custody," said Fann, R-Prescott.

Democrats: 'It's about undermining the will of the voters'

Fann has argued that the audit is merely meant to allay concerns about the last election after former President Donald Trump disputed his defeat.

"This is not about overturning an election," Fann said on Wednesday. "This is 100% about instilling confidence in our elections."

a sign over a wooden fence: A truck is loaded with pallets of ballots from the 2020 Maricopa County election. They are ready to be delivered to the state Senate, according to a provision in a subpoena. © Maricopa County A truck is loaded with pallets of ballots from the 2020 Maricopa County election. They are ready to be delivered to the state Senate, according to a provision in a subpoena.

But many Republican lawmakers who have pushed for an audit had also called for overturning the results altogether. They have not waited for the outcome of the Senate's review to promote a range of conspiracy theories about the election.

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"What are we doing other than just undermining the past election and voter confidence?" Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, said after the firms were selected.

Steve Gallardo, the only Democrat on the county board of supervisors, has argued the Senate is trying to undermine the results of the election after Republicans lost the presidential race here, along with a U.S. Senate seat.

"This isn’t about finding the truth. It’s about undermining the will of the voters. This is about not liking the results of the election. You lost the election. Deal with it," Gallardo said at a press conference outside the Capitol last week.

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The county already has performed several audits of the election, including a hand count of ballots required under state law and logic and accuracy tests on the voting machines. The audits showed that votes were counted correctly and machines were not tampered with.

Under pressure from the Senate to do more, the county also hired two independent firms to conduct a thorough examination of the voting machines.

The auditors found that the election was sound. The county used certified equipment and software, no malicious hardware was found on voting machines, the machines were not connected to the internet, and the machines were programmed to tabulate ballots accurately, according to a letter from county election directors to the supervisors.

Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Boucher contributed to this article.

Contact Andrew Oxford at andrew.oxford@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @andrewboxford.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Founder of firm hired to conduct Arizona election audit promoted election fraud theories

Voter fraud has swung election outcomes, but narrative-obsessed media can't admit it .
The New York Times has adopted wholesale the Democratic Party's line on voter fraud and election laws and isn't trying to hide it. David Leonhardt, in his April 7 newsletter, flatly misled his readers, favoring narrative over facts. © Provided by Washington Examiner Leonhardt wrote, as if undisputed fact, the following false assertion: “Voter fraud is exceedingly rare. There is no reason to believe it has determined the outcome of a single U.S. election in decades.” No reason? None?Just two years ago, North Carolina had to re-do its 9th District congressional election because of (Republican) voter fraud.

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