Hardcore Donald Trump fans, QAnon supporters, and indeed Trump himself, still hold out hope that November’s election result will be overturned thanks to the ballot audit currently taking place in Arizona.
Those hopes now apparently rest on a 5K camera and bamboo fibers.
That’s right, the auditors in Arizona are looking into the conspiracy theory that a box containing 40,000 ballots was shipped from China and stuffed into the ballot boxes in Maricopa County as part of the efforts to steal the election from the former president.
The news came from an interview with audit liaison John Brakey conducted by a local TV station in Phoenix.
“There’s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in and stuffed into the box and it came from the Southeast part of the world, Asia. And what they’re doing is to find out if there’s bamboo in the paper,” Brakey told CBS5 News.
“They use bamboo in their paper processing, people in south-east Asia” Brakey added, before saying he doesn’t believe the conspiracy theory. “I’m just saying that is part of the mystery we want to un-gaslight people about.”
Brakey added that in order to see if a ballot contains bamboo, the auditors are using a camera with a resolution of 5K to take a picture of the ballot. “They can really look at depth and find out is it a hand-marked paper ballot.”
So where did the conspiracy theory about Asian paper ballots come from? Well, as far back as June 2020, Trump himself was pushing the conspiracy theory.
Then in December, a month after the election, a number of tweets related to Arizona went viral, shared tens of thousands of times, without any evidence to support their claims.
The specific claim about Asian ballots being stuffed into boxes in Arizona appears to have come from conspiracy theorist and amateur treasure hunter Jovan Pulitzer. So where is Pulitzer now? He’s heavily involved in the Arizona audit, of course.
Pulitzer, a failed inventor who once created a barcode scanner listed as one of the 50 worst inventions ever, is consulting with the company running the audit to use unproven technology that Pulitzer claims can spot fraudulent ballots.
Over two million ballots were cast in Maricopa county, where President Joe Biden won with 50.3% of the vote.
But now, six months after the election, the GOP-controlled Arizona State Legislature has ordered a hand recount, and handed the $150,000 contract for the process to Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company that has no previous experience of conducting election audits—though its CEO Doug Logan does have links to QAnon-promoting lawyer Lin Wood.
The audit, which is due to finish on May 14, is way behind schedule, with less than 10% of the votes counted as of Tuesday, the halfway mark in the process.
While the auditors may want to drag the process on for weeks or months longer, the building where it is being conducted said it has other events scheduled so the audit will have to vacate the premises on the agreed date.
It’s hardly surprising that the count has been so slow however, given that prior to searching for bamboo fibers, the auditors were using UV lights to search for watermarks on the ballot, another a conspiracy theory first promoted by QAnon following the election.
The audit is perpetuating the “Big Lie” that the election was somehow stolen from Trump, and the former president is now reportedly obsessed with the recount, raising it to people he sees at his resort in Mar-a-Lago.
While the ludicrous claims about UV lights and bamboo fibers may sound funny, critics have raised serious concerns about the integrity of the election after Logan was given complete control of the ballots, calling their chain of custody into question.
“From a legal standpoint, chain of custody, ballot integrity has been so destroyed by a lack of procedures that moved into evolving procedures” Matthew Masterson, a former senior cybersecurity advisor at the Department of Homeland Security, said at a press briefing Wednesday. “You can’t reestablish that chain of custody and integrity after the fact. So, from just a legal standpoint, I don’t know how you can establish proper chain of custody, evidence standards, anything for a court, or otherwise, it’s gone.”
At the same briefing, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman called on the Department of Justice to investigate.