Group Calls on DOJ to Send Monitors to Arizona Audit In this Wednesday, April 21, 2021 file photo, officials unload election equipment into the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)
By Eric Mack | Thursday, 29 April 2021 01:04 PM
Now that Arizona state Senate Republicans are moving forward with a forensic audit in Maricopa County, a new group is concerned with ballot handling, meaningful monitoring, and election security.
Those were the same concerns of the Trump administration during the extended counting of mass mail-in ballots put in play in key Democrat-heavy areas of key battleground states during the 2020 presidential election under the guise of COVID-19 safety concerns.
"We write to request that you deploy federal monitors to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where agents of the Arizona Senate are reviewing ballots as part of a so-called audit of votes cast for federal office in the 2020 general election in Maricopa County," leaders at the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in a letter to Biden administration Justice Department Voting Chief Chris Herren.
Among the concerns outlined in the letter:
- "Failure to ensure physical security of ballots."
- "Failure to ensure preservation of ballot integrity."
- "Lack of transparency of the purported audit."
"We are very concerned that the auditors are engaged in ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws," the letter added. "Specifically, we believe that the Senate and its agents, including Cyber Ninjas, are violating their duty under federal law to retain and preserve ballots cast in a federal election, which are and have been in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irretrievably damaged."
Cyber Ninjas, the auditor contracted to perform the ausit, has raised the ire of skeptical Democrats, which fear a partisan process despite the company's vow to conduct an independent forensic review.
"They failed to ensure the physical security of ballots by keeping doors unlocked and allowing unauthorized persons to access the ballot storage facility," the letter added. "They also risk compromising the integrity of the ballots themselves, using materials and technologies that will cause the ballot paper and marks to deteriorate, such as holding ballots to ultra-violet light without gloves.
"And, by restricting access to the audit by nonpartisan observers, election administrators and voting machine experts, they are failing to ensure that the audit is transparent."
Former President Donald Trump himself had already called on security for the auditors, issuing a statement this weekend from his Save America PAC that pressed Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey to "finally act."
"The Republican Party is demanding that Gov. Ducey of Arizona immediately provide large-scale security for the brave American Patriots doing the Forensic Audit of the 2020 Presidential Election," Trump wrote in a statement Saturday morning from his Save American PAC. "Gov. Ducey will be held fully responsible for the safety of those involved.
"State police or National Guard must be immediately sent out for protection. The Democrats do not want to have this information revealed, and they will do anything to stop it. Gov. Ducey must finally act!"
The Brennen Center letter also alleges potential "voter intimidation" efforts.
"We are also concerned that, under the Senate's audit procedures, the auditors are preparing to cause imminent violations of laws prohibiting voter intimidation," the letter added. "We are concerned about prospective violations of these statutes because many of the tactics envisioned by the Statement of Work for the audit such as interrogating voters and generating reports on supposedly 'unlawful' voters — are just the sort of conduct that have created federal voting rights liabilities for entities and individuals in the past."