The Republican-led Board of Supervisors in Arizona’s Maricopa County has called the company running the state’s controversial election audit “grifters and con artists” who can’t even count 200 ballots accurately.
That’s just one of the criticisms leveled at Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company running the audit, in a scathing letter sent to Senate President Karen Fann demanding an end to the audit, which the board says is endangering democracy.
“You have rented out the once-good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call ‘kinematic artifacts’ while shining purple lights for effect,” the letter states.
“None of these things are done in a serious audit. The result is that the Arizona Senate is held up to ridicule in every corner of the globe and our democracy is imperiled.”
The board, which has remained largely silent since the audit began, was spurred to respond after Fann claimed last week that county officials had illegally removed files from equipment and software that is being audited.
The rebuke from the five-member Board of Supervisors—four of whom are Republicans—is an extraordinary move against Republicans in the Arizona State Senate, who sanctioned the audit, and against former President Trump, who’s been boosting conspiracy theories about the vote in Maricopa County.
The recount of 2.1 million ballots there was sanctioned despite Maricopa County already completing several audits and finding no issues with the results, which helped President Joe Biden defeat Trump by 10,457 votes in Arizona—the first time a Democrat has won the state since 1996.
Cyber Ninjas’ capacity to conduct the audit has been widely criticized, and the board’s letter highlights one particularly egregious error.
“You seem to be stating that you counted 218 ballots in Batch 1643, but our Transfer Transmittal Slip log only recorded 200 ballots. We examined the Daily Tabulator Log slip for Batch 1643, and have verified that there were only 200 ballots in that batch—as there should have been.”
This is hardly surprising, however, given the red flags election experts have raised about the recount from the beginning.
“There’s nobody verifying that what they entered was correct,” Jennifer Morrell, a former election official designated a floor observer by the secretary of state’s office, told the Guardian, pointing out that no checks were in place to ensure the people counting the ballots and entering the data into the system had not made a mistake.
“One person, a single point of failure, as a former election official, someone who does audits, it’s a huge red flag for me.”
Republicans in the Arizona State Senate awarded the recount contract to Cyber Ninjas despite the company having no prior experience of running an election audit and even though its CEO has espoused election fraud conspiracies.
“The [auditors] are led by the Cyber Ninjas, a company nobody has ever heard of, with a CEO who has indulged even the craziest election conspiracy theories,” Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who was elected in 2020 and now leads the elections department, said during a special meeting on Monday.
“Cyber Ninjas has zero election experience prior to this year, and they are joined by other companies with zero election experience prior to this year.”
As well as miscounting ballots, Cyber Ninjas has indulged several baseless conspiracy theories, including using UV lights to check for watermarks that QAnon believers say Trump placed on the ballots to prevent fraud.
The company has also been searching for bamboo fibers in the paper used to print the ballots, a search linked to a conspiracy theory claiming that boxes stuffed with fake ballots were flown from Asia to Arizona on the night of the election to swing the vote in favor of Biden.
The recount is currently on hold because it is way behind schedule and the venue it was using was booked for high school graduations. The cost of the audit is unknown, but is likely to run into the millions, with most of the money coming from QAnon and conspiracy-loving businessmen.
In its letter, the Maricopa Board of Supervisors also dismissed a claim made by Fann last week that the county was withholding passwords to election machines from the auditors.
“We cannot give you a password that we do not possess any more than we can give you the formula for Coca-Cola,” the board wrote in the letter.
“We do not have it; we have no legal right to acquire it; and so, we cannot give it to you.”
But the letter is unlikely to make an difference to the pro-Trump and QAnon audiences, who are obsessively watching the recount. They believe it will trigger some sort of domino effect of recounts in other states that will ultimately see Trump returned to the White House.
These conspiracies are being fomented by Trump himself, who repeated the lie that the voter registration database in Maricopa County had been deleted on his website over the weekend.