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DOJ: Arizona recount of ballots may violate federal law

The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday issued a warning regarding the Arizona audit of 2020 election ballots in Maricopa County.

Donald Trump has been at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida since leaving the White House in January 2021 - © Mandel Ngan, AFP
Donald Trump has been at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida since leaving the White House in January 2021 - © Mandel Ngan, AFP

The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday issued a warning regarding the Arizona audit of 2020 election ballots in Maricopa County, saying it could be violating both federal voting and civil rights laws.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Pamela Karlan, principal deputy assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, warned Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, that turning over election material to Cyber Ninjas – a Florida-based contractor conducting the audit — might be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1960.

Karlan added in the letter that there are “at least issues of potential non-compliance with federal laws enforced by the Department.”

As for non-compliance issues, there are several, according to Karlan, reports The Hill. Karlan writes that, according to reports, election materials, systems and ballots in Maricopa County are “no longer under the ultimate control of state and local election officials and are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed.”

“We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and are at risk of damage or loss,” Karlan added.

Federal election laws require state and local officials to maintain election materials for 22 months. Maricopa County refused to participate in the recount ordered by the Arizona Senate.

Karlan also brought up voter intimidation, particularly over Cyber Ninjas methods of voter verification, such as canvassing.

“The Department enforces a number of federal statutes that prohibit intimidation of persons for voting or attempting to vote,” Karlan wrote. “Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act.”

What is Cyber Ninjas?

The Arizona Legislature went out on a limb when they hired Sarasota, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas to recount the roughly 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election. Not only is the company obscure, but it has absolutely no experience in elections, according to Slate.

Even more troubling is that Cyber Ninjas CEO, Doug Logan, helped to spread “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theories on his now-deleted Twitter account in the run-up to the Capitol riot, the Arizona Republic first reported.

Knowing that Logan has also been taken in by “The Big Lie,” it is not surprising that this particular company is involved in the recount, even if it is illegal.

Logan’s “Stop the Steal” antics extend beyond social media. He is listed as an expert witness in a lawsuit alleging voter fraud in Michigan. Logan was also the author of a document called “Election Fraud Facts & Details” that Sidney Powell, the conservative attorney who is now embroiled in a defamation lawsuit concerning her election conspiracy theories, shared on her website.

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As for transparency in the recount process, Lawyers for Cyber Ninjas requested that a Maricopa County judge keep its recount procedure under wraps due to supposed concerns around trade secrets and security. 

They have also been restricting access to audit observers, in one case turning people away because of an apparent problem with the sign-up sheet. Cyber Ninjas has also not done very well regarding security, forgetting things like locking doors to the facility holding the ballots and preventing unauthorized individuals from entering.

Sooo, it boils down to a question of how accurate and legal the recount of Maricopa County’s ballots will turn out to be.

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