Officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, announced on Monday that they would no longer use voting machines that had been used in the 2020 presidential election because the GOP-appointed so-called auditors examining the hardware had compromised their integrity.
Security firms hired by the Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate were tasked with auditing the outcome of the 2020 presidential race in Maricopa County between former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden, ostensibly to determine if fraud had affected the outcome. (No such evidence of widespread election fraud has been found in Arizona or elsewhere, despite repeated claims by Trump and several Republicans). However, the so-called audit has been mired in problems and controversies from the start, not the least of which is Cyber Ninjas, the very organization chosen to manage the audit.
Cyber Ninjas has zero experience handling such audits. Its CEO, Doug Logan, is also an avowed supporter of Trump who has espoused QAnon conspiracy theories on social media in the past, causing some to suspect that the audit being conducted by the company is neither fair nor impartial. It was also recently reported that Logan lent his voice to a conspiracy theory movie called “Deep Rig,” which makes several unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
Citing concerns about the unprofessional nature of the auditing process, Maricopa officials stated that they would not use the hardware examined by Cyber Ninjas in future contests.
“The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured, the County will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections,” a statement from officials read. “As a result, the County will not use the subpoenaed equipment in any future elections.”
The purchasing of new equipment for future elections in Maricopa County will likely cost millions in taxpayer dollars, but election officials were left without a choice after the “auditors” failed to properly secure the voting machines and ballots.
Over the course of the past few months, the Maricopa County audit has had a number of embarrassing and notable mishaps. Auditors, for example, marked ballots with blue pens, rendering them unreadable in voting machines. The auditing firms also looked into racist conspiracy theories alleging that China had sent forged ballots, made of bamboo paper, to help Biden win. Auditors also used UV lights to examine ballots for watermarks — an indication that they were searching for proof of yet another baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.
On one occasion auditors even alleged that county officials had deleted several election files prior to sending the data over for inspection — a claim that was proven untrue after those officials noted that auditors had simply been looking for the files in the wrong computer folders.
In addition to these peculiarities and dodgy actions, auditors have failed to properly store and secure the ballots during the process, which prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to write a letter to Arizona lawmakers in May warning them that the audit may be in violation of federal election laws.
In spite of these and other gaffes, Republican lawmakers in other states appear poised to try and repeat similar audits within their jurisdictions, even though no evidence of widespread fraud affecting the 2020 election exists at all.
They may be doing so to their own political detriment. Most Americans view such audits in a negative light, with polling from Monmouth University earlier this month demonstrating that 57 percent of voters consider the audits to be partisan actions meant to bring into question President Joe Biden’s clear victory in last year’s presidential race — which Trump refuses to concede — rather than legitimate attempts to expose election fraud.