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Arizona's Republican-led Senate in December subpoenaed all 2.1 million ballots from the state's most populous county, plus its voting machines and computer hard drives, for yet another review of November's presidential and U.S. Senate elections. The Maricopa Board of Supervisors, with four Republicans and one Democrat, refused to hand over the materials without a court order, citing privacy concerns, multiple voting machine audits already conducted, and a hand recount of significant ballot samples that affirmed President Biden's victory in the state. A county court upheld the Senate's subpoena Feb. 27.
State Senate Republicans took control of the ballots, voting machines, and hard drives, then "handed the materials over to Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based consultancy with no election experience run by a man who has shared unfounded conspiracy theories claiming the official 2020 presidential election results are illegitimate," The Associated Press reports. The audit, which got off to a shaky start on Friday, "has become a snipe hunt for skulduggery that has spanned a court battle, death threats, and calls to arrest the elected leadership of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix," The New York Times reports.
GOP senators acknowledge that the audit, covering two-thirds of votes cast in Arizona, won't change the election outcome. "Critics in both parties charge that an effort that began as a way to placate angry Trump voters has become a political embarrassment and another blow to the once-inviolable democratic norm that losers and winners alike honor the results of elections," the Times says.
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The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County's lone Democratic supervisor sued to stop the audit, arguing it violates state election laws. A judge on Friday ordered Cyber Ninjas to tell the court how it plans to conduct its audit and train volunteer ballot counters. Cyber Ninjas on Sunday asked the judge to keep its recount process secret, citing trade secrets.
Republicans aren't allowing the media to observe the recount, and Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan won't disclose who's funding it, conceding only that it will cost more than the $150,000 allocated by the Senate. One American News Network, a far-right cable network openly supportive of former President Donald Trump and his baseless vote-fraud conspiracies, "has raised money from unknown contributors for the project, and the money goes directly to Cyber Ninjas," AP reports. OAN, the Times adds, has also "been named one of the nonpartisan observers that will keep the audit on the straight and narrow."
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