Maricopa County audit observers to sign nondisclosure agreements

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Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona's largest county.

"The first issue relates to a number of reports suggesting that the ballots, elections systems, and election materials that are the subject of the Maricopa County audit are no longer under the ultimate control of state and local elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed", it continues.

Fann said people will always be concerned.

"Though conspiracy theorists are undoubtedly cheering on these types of inspections - and perhaps providing financial support due to their use - they do little other than further marginalize the professionalism and intent of this 'audit, '" she wrote to Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state and the liaison between Republicans in the State Senate and the company conducting it. Cyber Ninjas in particular has been criticized for a lack of qualification to review the election and for the apparent bias of its CEO, Doug Logan, who's promoted conspiracies of election fraud on social media.

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If Cyber Ninjas violates the terms of the agreement, including by blocking access to Hobbs's observers, the secretary of state or the party could seek new intervention from the court, she said. Cyber Ninjas is the primary contractor, but they also have three other firms that are doing this.

The recount of Maricopa County's almost 2.1 million ballots was ordered by the GOP-led state Senate, despite the fact that county officials, as well as state and federal judges, found no merit to claims that the vote was tainted by fraud or other problems. She was hoping they would be farther along than they are right now but also believes they are doing "pretty good".

"So this private company has come in and they've taken over the equivalent of our Lumen Field [Event Center] and they have pallets and pallets of ballots", Wyman said. "It's an event. And the problem is that now they've contaminated all of those ballots".

But the rental agreement signed by the Senate - an agreement a state official now says is unlikely to be extended - requires the Senate and its firms to remove all voting equipment and election materials, including ballots from the coliseum no later than May 14.

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"So that if you ever had to go back and visit those ballots, you could, and you could show the chain of custody, you could show all of the audit procedures that election officials employed at every step of the election", she said. "And now all of that has been thrown out the window because you've given these ballots and these materials to a third party".

"We'll see", she said. "But I'd like to assume you took this role with the best of intentions".

"In the 2020 election, people crossed the line and they made death threats and things to people on my staff". Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in 2020 - said workers were looking for traces of bamboo.

Wyman says she understands the emotion and frustration that people feel, but when you start threatening people because of a job, she says that's when it goes too far.

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"It is a simple process, but it has to be run a professional, secure manner to make sure we get this right", she stated. "I'm just saying it's part of the mystery that we want to un-gaslight people about". "Democracy is in our hands, and it's important". The other firms have worked for homeland security and done audits before.

She questioned whether procedures were in place to hire qualified, unbiased people to serve as ballot counters, noting that reporters have seen former state Rep. Anthony Kern, a Republican, among the ballot counters. "What they don't have is the moral authority to make it credible".

"The irony that I keep finding in this with all of the cybersecurity training that I've had over the last four years, this plays right into the misinformation and disinformation campaigns that our foreign adversaries have been really trying to advance", she added. "... This is exactly what what Russian Federation was trying to do eight years ago, was to try to divide Americans and trying to undermine democracy, and you know what?"

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