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Arizona ballot audit plagued with irregularities, official claims

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 12:17 PM CDT
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(CNN) - Democrats and even some Republicans have called Arizona’s election audit a sham, a fraud and a clown show.

New evidence from Arizona’s Secretary of State office could provide it to be just that. Her office has been documenting irregularities in the ballot review operation.

It’s been a mystery from the start, why the so-called audit workers all wear color-coded T-shirts.

But the two in pink shirts are the non-partisan observers representing the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, who were told by the company leading the audit that they need to wear them.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said she thinks she’s figured it out.

“What we’ve noticed is they are using these shirts to label our observers as pinko-commies, that the shirt made him look like a ‘transgender,’ which I don’t even know what that means,” said Katie Hobbs, Arizona Secretary of State. “I mean, I think this whole thing is a joke.”

The pink shirts are one of the more eye-popping details in a summary report from Hobbs’ office detailing a slew of problems with the ballot review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election.

Observers noted more than a dozen serious problems, from an unattended and open security gate, errors with a software update used to examine ballots so problematic they ditched it and went back to the old software, and a cell phone brought to the floor.

Observers said that cell phone was carried by one of the leaders of the so-called audit despite rules prohibiting them and security using what appears to be an anti-spy detector daily on the coliseum floor.

“There were two instances where black pens were again on the counting floor,” said Jen Fifield, an Arizona Republic reporter.

Pen color is a big deal because blue and black pens can be used to alter ballots during an audit. She pointed the issue out weeks ago to Cyber Ninja, the hired contractor conducting the ballot exercise for the Arizona Senate.

“He went and checked. He came back and said, ‘We’re going to remove the blue pens. We’re going to use green pens instead,’” Fifield said “It strikes me as showing they may not have experience doing election audits before.”

Cyber Ninjas are a little-known tech company hired out of Florida for this audit, a third review run by the Republican-controlled Arizona senate despite two previous audits conducted by Maricopa County.

In response, Audit spokesman Ken Bennett said he “laughed out loud” when he read Hobbs’ report, calling it “untrue,” “inconsequential” and “a bunch of B.S.”

He also called the observers biased, saying no one picked on them for the pink shirts.

Hobbs said her report seeks to rebut what she expects will be the final report from Cyber Ninjas and Arizona Senate Republicans, the next chapter of the big lie.

“I saw Senate Pres Karen Fann say ... last week that we’re setting the gold standard here in Arizona. There is nobody involved in any type of audit in any industry who would say what’s going on here is a gold standard,” Hobbs said. “We know the truth about the 2020 election, and the results we certified were an accurate reflection of the will of the voters, and this process is not.”

Two prior publicly funded audits of Maricopa County ballots and election machinery used in the November election found no evidence of widespread fraud or voting irregularities.

President Joe Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes - the narrowest margin of the states he won.

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