Arizona Republicans’ Fraudit: Let’s make Trump pretend president

Arizona Republicans are recounting Maricopa County ballots cast in the November 2020 presidential election… six months later. Over 2 million ballots were cast in Maricopa County, which Biden carried by more than 45,000 votes. Biden won the state by 10,457 votes.

After a hand recount in November and a certification of the results in December, the GOP-led state legislature issued subpoenas to audit the ballots and voting equipment. A judge ruled the county must turn over the material in February (around the same time as two independent audits of Maricopa County voting machines found no problems). Since then, officials have been packing the equipment and organizing the audit, including renting the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

  • State Senate President Karen Fann (District 1) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (District 12) led the court fight over the subpoenas.

Cyber Ninjas

In recent days, it has become clear that the so-called “audit” is a farce. The company running the effort is a Florida firm called Cyber Ninjas, which has no experience in election audits and is virtually unknown in Florida elections and politics circles. The group’s leader, Doug Logan, spread conspiracies on Twitter that the election was stolen from Trump. He frequently retweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert, conspiracist Lin Wood, and pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who argued in court that no reasonable person could have taken her seriously.

“I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast,” said one post he shared from another Twitter user around the end of 2020…

Another post he shared from a different Twitter user read, “With all due respect, if you can’t see the blatant cheating, malfeasence and outright voter fraud, then you are ignorant or lying.”

Logan also tweeted at Ron Watkins, the former administrator of the site 8kun and a vociferous Qanon supporter – in fact, Watkins appears to admit that he was “Q” in a recent documentary, though he now denies it.

“I’d love to chat if you have a chance,” Logan tweeted at Watkins on Nov. 12. The following day, he tweeted at Watkins after tweeting about hacking voting machines. “If you have any ‘original source’ documents you’re basing your info off of, I’d love it if you shared the links ;-),” Logan tweeted. Later that day, he tweeted at Watkins with “source material” on voting machines.

  • Qanon and Watkins have been obsessively following the Arizona “audit,” monitoring cameras inside the venue and posting screenshots of counters that they think aren’t doing a good enough job.

Court challenge

The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo filed a lawsuit last week to stop the audit, claiming it violated voter privacy by putting ballots into the hands of a private company. Cyber Ninjas told a state Superior Court judge on Sunday that its methods and procedures must be kept under seal or risk “compromis[ing] the security of its recount.” The court determined that the Senate has the authority to conduct what it calls an audit and allowed the process to continue, but scheduled another hearing to potentially weigh in on the rules of such an undertaking:

“The Arizona Senate has the constitutional authority to conduct the audit as part of its legislative function. However, the manner in which that audit is conducted must be balanced against the constitutional rights of the voters in Maricopa County, including the rights to secrecy and confidentiality of information,” [Judge Daniel Martin] said.

Before the hearing ended, Martin added: “I am not yet persuaded that there has been a showing that the rights of the voters in Maricopa County are being protected.”

On the fly

Currently, the media has not been formally allowed to observe the process. Arizona Republic Reporter Jen Fifield signed up to be a volunteer observer during the first hours of the recount on Friday. She tweeted that she noticed the ballot counters had blue pens, which election guidelines prohibit because ballot tabulation machines read any markings made in blue or black ink. The fear is that ballots can be changed by someone using a blue or black pen. She informed Cyber Ninja’s Doug Logan of this; he told her he didn’t know voting machines could read blue ink. Later, Fifield tweeted that the counting team switched to red and green pens. Audit organizers banned her from tweeting during her shift as an observer.


Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (clip):

“A group of Republicans are continuing to try to appease their base who refuse to accept that Trump lost Arizona and that he’s not the president anymore… We have so many concerns about this exercise. I kind of don’t want to call it an audit. I think that’s an insult to professional auditors everywhere because they’re making this stuff up as they go along.”

Regarding the court ruling in favor of the legislature’s subpoenas: “I think there was a high level of expectation that whoever had their hands on the ballots and the equipment would adhere to some level of security measures and transparency, and that clearly has not happened.”

New York Magazine:

Once the official results in Arizona have been pretend-overturned by Cyber Ninjas, MAGA guerrilla auditors will be unleashed in other states carried by Biden, presumably until enough “revised” results have been obtained to name Trump the pretend president. If the facts don’t support these increasingly delusional claims, new “facts” will be supplied until they produce the desired result. Presumably, these fantasy-world 2020-election results will be pretend-certified before Trump decides whether or not to wage a bloody-shirt comeback effort in 2024. And in the meantime, of course, the “doubts” over “ballot security” this exercise in revisionist vote-counting will reinforce can be used to justify fresh voter-suppression efforts in Arizona and elsewhere for future elections.