PHOENIX - There are no appeals in the case against the ongoing audit at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Downtown Phoenix, and now, some new sets of eyes will be overseeing the process.
The methods and processes being used in the controversial audit were at least partially revealed on April 29. Officials with Cyber Ninjas, the firm running the audit, released the CyFIR handling policies and WAKE TSI counting floor procedures in "ongoing efforts to be transparent."
The release of three documents by Florida-based Cyber Ninjas came a day after a Maricopa County judge refused to allow the company or the Republican-led Senate to keep the material secret and ordered it made public. Judge Daniel Martin gave them a day to appeal, but they declined.
Cyber Ninjas said in a statement that its goal "is for the public to be able to read the documents themselves and see that the process and the procedures are sound." The company, which fought the release in court, said it was releasing it as part of "ongoing efforts to be transparent" and urged media outlets to publish links to the documents so they can be easily accessed.
The three documents cover procedures for hand-recounting Maricopa County’s ballots, collecting and handling digital evidence, and securing the county ballots and tabulation machines at the state fairgrounds.
The Arizona Democratic Party previously sued to block the recount unless the policies for securing voter rights were released.
The Democrats argued the public had a right to know how the recount of ballots in the state’s most populous county was being conducted. Their lawyers argued that voter privacy would be irreparably harmed if the process proceeded, at least without knowing how the recount was being conducted.
On April 27, it was reported that Cyber Ninjas wanted a judge to keep secret its methods for ensuring ballot privacy.
Cyber Ninjas filed the policies under seal on the afternoon of April 25, and asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury to keep them sealed as trade secrets and because the Senate is immune as a separate branch of government. The company also wanted the hearing closed to the media and the public.
Cyber Ninjas also prompted Coury to recuse himself from the case by adding an attorney to its team who previously worked as Coury’s intern.
The Arizona secretary of state’s office, which oversees state elections and has long sought more transparency in the Senate’s unusual post-election recount, also had attorneys reviewing the documents. A spokeswoman said the office would comment once they had completed that analysis.
The Senate and Cyber Ninjas had claimed the policies and procedures for recounting the presidential and U.S. Senate votes in Maricopa County were shielded under legislative immunity and that the documents were trade secrets, but the judge said that’s not the case.
On April 28, a judge said that Cyber Ninjas' methods could not be kept secret.
"Cyber Ninjas policies and procedures are not subject to or protected by the privilege," said Judge Daniel Martin, on April 28.
Calls for federal observers to be sent to audit
As the audit continues, there was also a call for more eyes to be on the audit.
"We’re very troubled about what’s going on at the coliseum in Arizona," said Liz Howard with the Brennan Center For Justice, a national law firm that is asking the Department of Justice to send observers.
"There is a clear responsibility for them to preserve and maintain these ballots," said Howard.
Meanwhile, officials with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office have reached a deal to allow members of the office's team inside the coliseum.
"We’ve had an elections equipment expert on the ground since last Thursday, so he's on his way right now, said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. "We have a couple of other folks that will be there, and the plan is for all three of them to be present throughout the rest of this scheduled process."
The secretary of state oversees the states’ election rules, ballot handling and recount processes.
Arizona Senate GOP ordered controversial audit
The Arizona State Senate used its subpoena power to take possession of all 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County and the machines that counted them, along with computer hard drives full of data.
They’ve 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.
Conspiracy theories about the election have proliferated across the country even before President Joe Biden’s victory but have had particular staying power in Arizona, which flipped to the Democratic column for just the second time in 72 years.
The Senate has put up $150,000 for the audit, but Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan acknowledged that’s not enough to cover his expenses. The right-wing cable channel One America News Network has raised money from unknown contributors for the project, and the money goes directly to Cyber Ninjas. Logan would not commit to disclosing the donors and would not provide an estimate for the total cost of his audit.
Senate Democrats call the audit an effort to perpetuate what they call "The Big Lie" — Trump’s insistence that he actually won.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.
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