“The Ninja audit is an abomination that has so far eroded election confidence and defamed good people.”
As the final report from the GOP-led audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results is expected to be released in the coming days, election experts from both sides of the political aisle in Arizona—and across the country—are cautioning the public about the unreliable findings.
The audit was commissioned earlier this year by the state’s Republican-controlled Senate to “ensure transparency and integrity” in the election, but it has been plagued by concerns of mismanagement, lack of transparency, and lapses in security.
Now, nearly 10 months after the election, a draft report of the audit’s findings is being prepared to be presented to the Senate.
But on Thursday, ahead of the report’s release, several election experts and officials, including Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, highlighted the problems plaguing the audit process.
Multiple Reports, Election Experts Highlight Concerns
Richer, a Republican who unseated former Democratic Recorder Adrian Fontes in last November’s election, has been outspoken in recent months about the audit and the accusations made against him and his office.
In a 38-page letter addressed to Arizona Republicans—with dozens of references to news articles, tweets, and the works of Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde—Richer outlined a litany of concerns with how the audit process had unfolded.
“At this point, I hope my principal motivation for speaking out is abundantly clear: the Ninja audit is an abomination that has so far eroded election confidence and defamed good people,” he wrote in the letter.
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A report issued earlier this summer by the States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan group that advocates for secure elections, identified seven core defects that undermined the audit’s credibility.
They included uncompetitive contracting, a lack of impartiality, a faulty ballot review process, inconsistency in procedures, an unacceptably high level of error built into the process, insufficient security, and false public allegations made by Cyber Ninjas about the audit.
Hobbs also issued a report outlining problems that have plagued the audit process, including the lack of transparency, impartiality, and absence of quality control procedures.
“It is clear that any ‘outcomes’ or ‘conclusions’ that are reported from the Senate’s review, by the Cyber Ninjas or any of their subcontractors or partners, are unreliable,” Hobbs wrote.
Several election experts from around the country also gathered Thursday to contextualize the findings ahead of the final report.
David Becker, the executive director and founder of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research, called into question the “ecosystem of grifters” that have surrounded Trump in an attempt to relitigate the election.
Despite repeated insistences from the former president’s supporters that the election was stolen, elections officials across the country on both sides of the political aisle found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Maricopa County also conducted two independent audits of the 2020 election results, including a hand count of a “statistically significant” number of ballots that were found to have been counted with 100% accuracy.
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But despite the county going “above and beyond” to confirm that the election was secure, Becker said the Senate still chose to move forward with a “half-baked effort” by Cyber Ninjas, who were unequipped to do election work.
Richer, who has echoed similar sentiments in recent months, reaffirmed them on Thursday.
In his report, Richer referenced data that showed Trump’s loss in Maricopa County was ultimately due to disaffected Republican voters, who cast a ballot for a majority of the Republicans on the ballot but did not vote for Trump.
“We lost, and that’s okay,” Richer said on the call Thursday. “What is not okay is to destroy democracy over one loss.”