Voting rights groups ask for federal intervention in Arizona, where a company owned by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist is conducting an ‘audit’ of the 2020 election

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In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett speaks at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. A judge hearing a challenge to voter privacy policies during the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate’s recount of 2.1 million 2020 election ballots says he is not convinced voter secrecy is being upheld.

  • Voting rights groups urged the Department of Justice to “deploy federal monitors” in Arizona.
  • The groups are concerned about a Republican-led effort to “audit” the 2020 election.
  • That effort is being led by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Voting rights groups are expressing grave concern over a Republican effort to “audit” the 2020 election in Arizona, pleading with the US Department of Justice to “deploy federal monitors” and safeguard some 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County.

In an April 29 letter to the department’s Civil Rights Division, lawyers with Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy, and The Leadership Conference allege that the audit that began last week is threatening the very right to vote.

Cyber Ninjas was selected by Arizona’s GOP-led state Senate despite not having any prior experience in elections. Its founder, Doug Logan, promoted “#StopTheSteal” conspiracy theories on his since-deleted Twitter account, suggesting he was selected not for his expertise but for his credibility with others who also believed former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims of widespread election fraud.

In their letter requesting federal intervention, the lawyers say they believe Arizona Republicans and Cyber Ninjas are breaking the law.

“Specifically,” they write, the parties “are violating their duty under federal law to retain and preserve ballots in federal elections, which are and have been in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irretrievably damaged.” They also allege that the parties are “preparing to engage in conduct which will constitute unlawful voter intimidation in violating of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cyber Ninjas has thus far failed to divulge how exactly it plans to spot improprieties that were not detected in two previous audits by credible firms; in the first few days, its temp workers and partisan volunteers were seen holding up ballots to ultraviolet lights in an apparent effort to prove President Joe Biden’s victory in the county was the product of fraud.

That process placed ballots “in jeopardy of being irreparably damaged,” the lawyers said.

The company has also impeded access for legitimate journalists – CNN reported Thursday that its journalists had trouble getting in even as granting special access has been granted to the far-right One America News Network, which is live-streaming the spectacle.

Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors, where Republicans hold a majority, certified Biden’s victory last fall and fought the state party’s efforts to hand ballots over to a pro-Trump third party.

Cyber Ninjas’ methods are at the heart of litigation brought by the Arizona Democratic Party, which demanded they be made public. A state court agreed and the company on Thursday released three documents outlining its security procedures.

The party’s chairman, state Rep. Raquel Terán, said in an interview with Insider earlier this week that the ballot counting is a “sham audit” intended to placate conspiracy theorists and justify new voting restrictions. The party is now reviewing the documents that were released.

Sen. Karen Fann, the Republican state Senate president who selected Cyber Ninjas, allocating it $150,000 to conduct the ballot count, has not responded to requests for comment.

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