Opinion: The Arizona audit is an embarrassment

WSPN%27s+Genevieve+Morrison+discusses+the+implications+of+Arizona%27s+current+audit+following+the+2020+presidential+election.

Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user kgroovy

WSPN’s Genevieve Morrison discusses the implications of Arizona’s current audit following the 2020 presidential election.

Genevieve Morrison

Six months after the election, and five since the new president was inaugurated, Arizona is still recounting ballots. Is there a federal agency overseeing this? Or maybe even a state committee? No. Instead, a private tech company has been entrusted with our election results. The presence of a third party in a federal audit is questionable in itself, but the Pennsylvania-based firm, Cyber Ninjas, is especially suspect.

The company has no confirmed election or auditing experience and quite frankly, it’s evident. Over the course of the audit, the group examined ballots for bamboo fiber to determine if they were sent from China and scanned ballots with UV light to search for secret watermarks that were supposedly placed on “legitimate” ballots by former Department of Homeland Security officials. These shocking and blatantly xenophobic beliefs have no place in our government. Not only is this company entertaining conspiracy theories, but it seems like their only purpose is to entertain conspiracy theories. On a now-deleted Twitter account, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, Doug Logan perpetuated 2020 election fraud theories, retweeting such remarks as: “I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast.” Logan clearly has his mind made up about the election, so why is he being trusted with the authority to determine its results?

When this board isn’t wearing tinfoil hats and hiding from invisible Chinese enemies, they are conducting the audit with woeful carelessness. Over the course of the audit, the counters have accumulated a laundry list of mistakes and missing requirements. For example, Cyber Ninjas allowed blue pens to be used on the ballots. Since blue ink is used to vote, workers could easily alter ballots. Additionally, forensics teams with access to classified information left their computers unlocked and unattended. There is also no process to hire unbiased counters. For example, former state representative Anthony Kerns was hired to count ballots, despite the fact that he led a “Stop the Steal” movement in Arizona and was present at the insurrection on the Capitol January 6. He is also coincidentally assigned to count ballots in a race that he himself is running in. The counters use an acceptable error rate of 3 ballots per 100, which is a larger margin of victory than the one by which the presidential election was won. These are not even half of the reported complaints against Cyber Ninjas. This level of error takes a simply unnecessary procedure and transforms it into something dangerous. These careless errors create opportunities for the results to be tainted, opportunities that never would have existed if the Arizona senate did not insist on an audit.

Even though they have no official auditing procedure, they do have a plan for an antifa attack. In their security proposal, Cyber Ninjas outlines the nonexistent organization as a potential threat, saying: “Antifa will likely use the backed-up traffic in those six lanes to slow police and fire response to any perimeter breach operation” and “There is a greater threat of militia activity than antifa activity in this area.” Honestly, it’s shocking how much weight baseless fear-mongering can hold in our government. Antifa, otherwise known as anti-facism, is not an organization, certainly not a terrorist group but rather a discordant movement without leaders or members. Despite this, antifa is always the target for anti-leftist sentiment, and it’s the perfect scapegoat. Its definition is malleable and can be twisted into whatever is most convenient.

This audit is a humiliating waste of government resources. It is completely unnecessary, considering the fact that a recount already happened. Per Arizona state law, after every election, a board must hand-count the ballots from a randomly selected county and compare their count to that of the voting machines. Predictably, when this happened in November, the board found no inconsistencies. Government funds don’t grow on trees, and the funds for this audit are coming out of taxpayers pockets. This project used $150,000 of taxpayer money.

The audit may seem like an act of due diligence, just another way to cover all the bases, but it’s so much deeper than that. Calling our democratic process into question at such a vulnerable time makes an impactful statement. Many Americans are losing faith in democracy, and our government has a responsibility to uphold the values on which our country was built. Now is not the time to insert more uncertainty. We need to stand by our people, our rights and trust the process that has worked for us thus far.