Arizona Senate, Cyber Ninjas provide update on election audit
PHOENIX – Arizona Senate President Karen Fann has scheduled a public briefing for Thursday with the leaders of the ongoing election audit that she authorized.
A press release Wednesday announced that there would be a 10 a.m. “hearing,” but Fann said on Twitter that night it would be an “update and briefing” and “not the appropriate time for any testifying.”
In another tweet, the Prescott Republican said, “No one is asking questions. This is a briefing.”
The Senate will be open to the public and media, but seating will be limited, the release said. The proceedings will be livestreamed.
Fann will be joined by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen, Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett and the leaders of two of the vendors hired to conduct the audit, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and CyFIR founder Ben Cotton.
No other details about the briefing were released.
Cyber Ninjas was hired as lead contractor for the audit, which started April 23 after the Senate won a legal battle with Maricopa County for access to election equipment and approximately 2.1 million ballots from the November 2020 general election in metro Phoenix.
Fann told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday that the number ballots tallied during the audit didn’t match the total documented by Maricopa County, but she didn’t know how far off the counts were.
Most audit operations have wrapped up, but counting machines are being used to recheck of the total number of ballots, a process that was expected to continue into next week.
Audit officials have said a final report was expected to be released in late July or August.
The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee sent Logan a letter Wednesday requesting documentation about Cyber Ninjas’ role in the audit, funding and possible connections to former President Donald Trump or his surrogates.
Cyber Ninjas had no previous experience conducting election audits. Fann’s selection of the Florida-based firm’s $150,000 bid quickly drew scrutiny over Logan’s deleted Twitter account, which had activity supporting unfounded election conspiracy theories.
The low bid doesn’t cover the cost of the operation, expected to be in the millions, and fundraising has been taking place in the name of the audit.
Fann has said the aim of the process is to restore faith in the election system and find ways to improve Arizona’s voting laws, not to reverse the result of the election.
However, many Trump supporters see it as a step toward invalidating President Joe Biden’s victory and returning Trump to office.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which consists of four Republicans and one Democrat, previously authorized two audits by independent contractors who are certified by the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.
Those audits found no problems, but state Senate Republicans subpoenaed the county for access to the election materials at the urging of Trump supporters who refused to accept Biden’s narrow victory Maricopa County and statewide.
On Wednesday, Maricopa County committed nearly $3 million to replace election equipment that officials say can’t be reused after it was in the hands of uncertified auditors.
It’s possible that the county will attempt to get the Senate, which signed an indemnification contract, to cover the cost.