The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division sent a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) on Wednesday detailing concerns it has over private contractors performing an audit of the November presidential election in Maricopa County.
Last month, the GOP-controlled state Senate used subpoenas to get the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County during the election, as well as voting machines and private and public voter information. The Senate hired private contractors to conduct the audit, now underway in Phoenix, seeking a recount of all ballots and a review of the voting machines and voter information to search for evidence of potential fraud, The Arizona Republic reports.
The main contractor is Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity firm based in Florida whose CEO spread "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theories ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo filed a lawsuit to try to stop the audit, saying it lacked transparency and clear procedures on how to protect the ballots, and several civil rights organizations have asked the Justice Department to send federal monitors to Phoenix to oversee the audit.
The letter from the Justice Department to Fann was sent by Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division. She said the DOJ is concerned about reports that the ballots, voting machines, and voting information are not secure and at risk of being "lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed." Additionally, in its work plan, Cyber Ninjas told the Senate it will contact voters via phone and in person to "collect information on whether the individual voted in the election." This could be seen as voter intimidation, Karlan wrote, which is illegal.
Karlan asked Fann to respond with "the steps that the Arizona Senate will take to ensure that violations of federal law do not occur" during the audit. Fann told The Arizona Republic the Senate's attorney is working on a response to Karlan.