Arizona’s secretary of state called the GOP-commissioned election audit ‘prime for cooking the books’

Katie Hobbs Maricopa County audit
A composite image of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and a scene from the 2020 election audit in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • AZ Sec. of State Katie Hobbs is documenting irregularities with the Maricopa County election audit.
  • One concern is that auditors were seen with dark-colored pens, which may be used to alter a ballot.
  • Hobbs told CNN on Thursday that the GOP-commissioned audit is “prime for cooking the books.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has once again slammed the GOP-backed audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, suggesting that it was “prime for cooking the books.”

President Joe Biden won Arizona by a narrow margin in the election, and multiple Republican legal challenges to the results in that state have been either lost or dismissed.

Nonetheless, a review of the results in Maricopa County – the nation’s second-largest voting jurisdiction – was launched thanks to the state’s Republican-controlled Senate, which hired a little-known Florida tech company called Cyber Ninjas to carry out the audit.

Cyber Ninjas has never carried out an elections audit before, and Hobbs’ office has documented multiple irregularities in its operation, including the fact that workers were found with black and blue pens, which can be used to alter ballots.

Hobbs, who announced she was running for Arizona governor this week, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that Cyber Ninjas is “creating an atmosphere that is prime for cooking the books so that they can produce the result that they want to produce.”

She said that Cyber Ninjas was informed from the start that dark pens were not allowed in the auditing process, but it’s “continued to be an issue throughout this entire exercise.”

“We have repeatedly said, anyone who knows what they’re doing around elections does not want to have a device that can mark a ballot in any way, that can potentially alter that ballot, and they’re continuing to ignore that and continuing to do this,” Hobbs said.

In a previous interview with Insider’s Grace Panetta in May, Hobbs said the “so-called audit … is making a mockery of everything we do to conduct fair, secure, and accurate elections.”

Jen Fifield, a reporter with The Arizona Republic, noticed blue pens being used back in April, when she raised the issue with Cyber Ninjas.

Fifield told CNN in a separate interview on Thursday that she was told by a member of the group that they would be using green pens instead, going forward.

Fifield was asked in the CNN interview whether she thought workers using blue pens struck her as a “big deal.”

“It strikes me as showing that they may not have experience doing election audits before,” Fifield said.

Insider has contacted Cyber Ninjas and the Arizona Senate Republican Party for comment.

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