Stay with me here, you’re going down a super-sized rabbit hole. For months in Phoenix a recount of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots has been taking place, conducted by a company that’s never done an election recount, and whose CEO has posted conspiracy BS about the 2020 election. He also recently appeared in the movie Deep Rig, which includes QAnon and other Stop-the-Steal boobs spewing unfounded nonsense about a stolen election.
From the beginning, Senate President Karen Fann, who attended the movie’s June 26 premiere, has defended her decision to hire the inexperienced and clearly partisan Cyber Ninjas, even as news filtered out about their political biases, which raised questions about who is being hired to count ballots, who is permitted to cover the event, who is providing security, and who is funding the muddle, among other problems election experts have uncovered.
The audit is supposedly a public undertaking, since taxpayer dollars were appropriated to fund it. Sure, that $150,000 in state funds is a fraction of the amount needed, but the audit is still being conducted for “the people.” Sen. Fann has said all along that their goal is not to overturn the 2020 results, but to instill integrity in the election process so the public has confidence. You’re sure doing a bang-up job, Senator! I can certainly see why other states want to embark on the USS
Now the Arizona Republic reports that the Arizona Senate will recount the ballots after Cyber Ninjas finishes its recount. Wait … what?
The Arizona Senate will conduct its own recount of the total number of Maricopa County ballots cast in last fall's election, Senate President Karen Fann said Thursday.
The Senate has purchased two paper-counting machines to serve as a check on the work done by its contractor, Cyber Ninjas, as well as the count done by county elections officials.
Fann called it a "triple-check"* on the number of ballots cast as the audit is winding down toward a possible end late next week.
*It’s more than triple. Cyber Ninjas is recounting two recounts that Maricopa County conducted earlier, after the initial count. Lost track yet?
The Senate is only recounting the physical ballots themselves, not the actual votes, so they can compare that count with the Ninjas’, who have missed several deadlines and whose handling of ballots and voter information has been called into question. Could it be that Sen. Fann isn’t so confident in the Ninjas anymore? Last week, because the process is so far behind schedule, they had to move the clown show into a nearby building with no A/C because the Coliseum, where they’d been doing whatever it is they do since April, was leased for another event.
Reporters hoping to get an adequate explanation for this new development face the same information stonewall that’s confronted them at every turn. Sen. Fann says Cyber Ninjas is a private firm so they don’t have to reveal their procedures, funding, or security measures. Due to all the secrecy, two lawsuits have been filed seeking information about WTF is going on, one by the Arizona Republic:
The news organization on Wednesday filed a special action in Maricopa County Superior Court seeking financial records and communications about the audit from the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the contractor it hired to lead the work.
Another by a national legal watchdog group called American Oversight:
A nonprofit group called American Oversight, which formed in 2017 to investigate potential fraud in the Trump administration, filed the suit after the Senate declined to turn over records when they were requested through the state public records law.
Yup, this never-ending disaster is certainly instilling confidence in the election process. I’ve never felt so confident. Lewis Carroll and his rabbit hole are pikers compared to this bottomless nightmare.
UPDATE: Trump is coming to Phoenix July 24 for a “Rally To Protect Our Elections.” Apparently “the ballot review has riveted the former president.” Perhaps he will do his own recount. Diary here.
UPDATE II: Elections expert Jennifer Morrell says that when the Senate’s tally does not match the Cyber Ninjas’ numbers, and it won’t, the public should not assume there was any cheating, but that won’t stop the conspiracists.
This is not because there was fraud on the part of the county, she said, but because the audit was mismanaged, processes changed too frequently and there initially was no quality control.