- Critics of the vote recount in Maricopa County, Arizona, allege that is is a shambolic process.
- Observers from the state government say little is done to ensure consistency and accuracy.
- Reports describe participants using bizarre methods informed by conspiracy theorists.
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Workers are conducting the recount of presidential election votes in Arizona’s Maricopa County using sloppy and inconsistent methods, say observers and critics of the process.
Some participants appear to be searching for evidence on the basis of conspiracy theories, according to reports from the counting site.
Observers from the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs were granted access to the recount for a week. Hobbs described their findings in a Wednesday letter which attacked the credibility of the process.
The recount was launched by the GOP-controlled stat legislature. Maricopa County is the largest in Arizona, and stunned many observers when its traditionally Republican voters favored Joe Biden over Donald Trump in November 2020.
The state GOP ordered the audit on April 27, citing the unfounded allegations of mass fraud spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies.
In her letter describing the recount, Hobbs writes that observers found troubling irregularities, and said the process was opaque and in breach of state rules meant to ensure accuracy and integrity.
Observers also discussed their concerns in a press conference Thursday, reported local media.
- Computers on the recount floor left unlocked. They said this risked the data on the machines being altered.
- Inconsistent rulings for counting. The observers said different teams were improvising their methods rather than following a common approach.
- They criticized data entry too, saying that figures were being plugged into a central spreadsheet in a haphazard way that risked error.
- They said counters weren’t keeping proper track of batches of votes, risking them being miscounted or counted more than once.
- They questioned the motives of the workers – claiming that there was no screening process for political bias. They said some counters attended “Stop the Steal” rallies, which were predicated on Trump’s baseless claims of electoral fraud.
Observers who spoke to The Guardian also drew attention to use of a mysterious technology developed by the failed inventor Jovan Pulitzer.
Details were scarce, but it appeared to be used in an attempt to verify conspiracy theories alleging that thousands of counterfeit ballots were used in the election.
The process is being conducted by a contractor called CyberNinjas, whose founder has expressed support for Trump’s election fraud claims.
The concerns of the secretary of state’s office were echoed by other observers of the recount. According to reports, some counters are searching ballots for traces of bamboo on the basis of a theory that many were smuggled from Asia.
Questions have been raised over why auditors are examining ballots using UV lights and looking for watermarks. It’s another sign that auditors are working to verify conspiracy theories alleging that ballots are fake, observers say.
“A number of items detailed in the Counting Floor Procedures appear better suited for chasing conspiracy theories than as a part of a professional audit,” wrote Hobbs.
The US Department of Justice also expressed concern about the recount in a letter to the Arizona Senate.
In remarks to reporters Thursday, Hobbs warned that the recount methods could be used as a template to subvert election results across the US.
“This is really dangerous for our democracy and we think they are writing the playbook for them to take this across the country,” Hobbs said, reported the Arizona Mirror. “This is potentially precedent setting.”
The Twitter account representing the recount rejected her claims.