The physical examination phase of Arizona ballots/voting systems in the infamous “One more (informal) recount” ordered by the Republican Arizona Senate is drawing to an end, although the company that is handling the matter still has to write up its report. That company, “Cyber Ninjas,” is a group with zero experience in counting or recounting ballots. But that doesn’t matter. Apparently the only thing that counts is that the head of the company, Doug Logan, is a notorious Big Lie proponent.
Logan must believe that “Cyber Ninjas” sounds better than “Keyboard Geeks,” and I guess this keystroke of marketing genius worked with the Arizona Senate. Of course, nothing screams “We’re going to ensure election integrity and uncover any irregularities or fraud in the vote count” like turning the process over to a group that has no expertise and is headed by a guy with a propensity for perpetuating a fraudulent narrative.
Many Democrats have been deeply concerned that the State Senate gave this unqualified outfit unsupervised access to ballots cast in the 2020 election as well as voting machines, which certainly raises chain-of-custody/integrity-of-the-process issues. Those fears are well founded, as the Arizona Secretary of State, the state’s chief elections officer, told Maricopa County that it should replace all voting machines that were turned over to Cyber Ninjas for the audit, citing “grave concerns regarding the security and integrity” of the machines that would prevent them from being used in future elections. She stated that no election official or observer was allowed to be present when Cyber Ninjas and its subcontractors “examined” the machines.
The Secretary of State also had to sue to be given access to observe the recount. And Democratic and Republican observers were not allowed at each table to observe the counting, unlike in real election audits. This is ironic, given that some of Trump’s election challenges focused on the fact that his poll “observers” were allegedly barred from viewing ballot counting by legitimate poll workers or else positioned so far away, they couldn’t see what was going on.
Of course, all but one of the Trump observer lawsuits were thrown out by the courts. And in the one case where a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that Trump’s observers had to be allowed to move closer to the vote counting in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately overturned the decision. The Arizona recounters apparently believed the way to avoid this problem was to try to dispense with observers. Hypocrisy and projection are the Republicans’ stock-in-trade, after all.
To make matters worse, a Cyber Ninjas contractor, CyFIR apparently spirited copies of voting system data out of Arizona, to its supposed “lab” in Montana that appears, by all accounts, to be the company owner’s cabin in the woods. It is unclear what, if any, security measures are in place to protect that data, which may or may not include sensitive voter registration information. Even allowing CyFIR unfettered access to the unspecified data is troubling, regardless of any security measures it has employed to prevent others from gaining access to it. When there’s “nothing to see here,” might as well do it where no one can see it.
Trump reportedly hopes to parlay the Arizona recount into similar recounts in other states he narrowly lost. This entire Arizona charade, which follows a legitimate recount and a forensic audit conducted by experienced, certified firms that found no irregularities, thus reeks of a protection racket: “Nice election you got there, Mr. Biden. Sure would be a shame if something were to happen to your victory in Arizona. And keep in mind, we also know where your Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada victories are.”
The anti-democratic actions of Republican state legislatures in both the recount arena and the passage of voter suppression laws under the guise of “election integrity” reinforce the need for Democrats to focus on electing senators and representatives not just at the federal level, but at the state level as well, and to pass federal legislation that actually protects voting rights and the integrity of our elections.