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Firm recounting Arizona ballots wants methods kept secret

Election 2020 Arizona Audit
Posted at 10:14 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 20:31:01-04

PHOENIX — A contractor hired by Arizona's state Senate to oversee the recount of 2.1 million ballots from November’s election in the county that includes the metro Phoenix area wants a judge to keep secret its methods for ensuring ballot secrecy.

The request came ahead of a hearing set for late Monday morning.

A judge on Friday ordered the state Senate and ballot recount contractor Cyber Ninjas to submit their policies and procedures for ensuring voter privacy and ballot secrecy so he could review them.

Cyber Ninjas filed policies under seal Sunday afternoon and asked for the hearing to be closed to the media and to the public.

Late Sunday night, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge was forced to remove himself from presiding over a case challenging the election audit underway at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Judge Christopher Coury said his recusal came after receiving new documents from attorneys defending Cyber Ninja's, the company that was hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to conduct the audit.

"In the documents filed today, several attorneys appeared whose names previously were not on notices of appearance prior to Friday’s hearing. That is not surprising, given the short fuse in which the hearings have proceeded. The involvement of one attorney whose name appeared on the filings for the first time today requires me to recuse," said Coury, in an email to attorneys representing all parties in the case.

The lawsuit, filed by the Arizona Democratic Party on Thursday, asked Coury to grant a temporary restraining order to stop the audit from moving forward after the party raised security concerns.

On Friday, Judge Coury ruled that the audit could be paused if Arizona Democrats paid a $1 million bond to cover any losses endured during the stop of work.

State Democrats declined to do that.

Monday, Arizona Democratic Party Chair, Raquel Terán released the following statement:

“The Arizona Democratic Party will continue to insist on transparency and compliance with the law, but at this point, it is clear that Senate President Fann and the Cyber Ninjas think they're above the law. Arizona Republicans are afraid of public scrutiny of their poorly-run and haphazard conspiracy theory-fueled operation. They are handling our ballots in secret and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill, including including the fees of their lawyers, who are fighting against transparency and holding the Senate accountable.

Senate President Fann and the Cyber Ninjas have been stonewalling the public and are saying that they do not have to follow the law and election procedures, while at the same time refusing to provide any semblance of transparency over this sham audit. In violation of Friday’s court order, Cyber Ninjas have not provided the required documents and information demonstrating that they have any policies and procedures in place to protect ballots and tabulation machines –– let alone policies that comply with the law and industry standards –– and are demanding that these documents be kept secret from the public.

Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich are failing every Arizona voter by allowing this sham to continue and are complicit in this fraudulent audit.”