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DOJ expresses concerns over audit of Maricopa County election through letter

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Posted at 7:05 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 11:48:23-04

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Justice says it is concerned about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate’s unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County.

The DOJ Civil Rights Division has sent a letter to Senator Karen Fann raising its concerns about the audit.

The letter points to "procedures used for this audit." It specifically mentions two items that raise "potential noncompliance with federal laws enforced by the Department."

The first issue brought up by the DOJ relates to the audit itself and how it is being handled. Principle Deputy Attorney Pamela Karlan writes that "reports suggesting that the ballots, election systems, and election materials that are subject of the Maricopa County audit are no longer under the ultimate control of state and local election officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed."

The second concern deals with reports that the scope of work that Cyber Ninjas, the group running the audit, put together "indicates that the contractor has been working with a number of individuals to identify voter registrations that did not make sense."

The department says the description of reports surrounding canvassing 2020 voters may constitute "intimidation of persons for voting or attempting to vote."

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney Karlan addressed the letter to State Senate President Karen Fann along with Acting US Attorney for Arizona Glenn McCormick, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.

This letter comes one day after ABC15 learned that the company leading the recount is now requiring a legal document called a non-disclosure agreement to be signed by volunteers who want to participate. The NDA explains observers must agree to keep information detailing what they saw and experienced while present to themselves unless given permission by the company.

“The very heart of being an observer is to be able to watch, to observe, to take that information and to share it with others," said Tammy Patrick with the Democracy Fund. Patrick previously worked at the Maricopa County Elections Department from 2003 to 2014.

ABC15 has previously reported several attempts made by Cyber Ninjas to keep its methods and process hidden from the public.

A judge eventually ruled the group must turn over documents showing policies and procedures.