Updated: May 4, 2021
On the 23rd of April 2021, a recount of the election ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona, started nearly six months after President Joe Biden won Arizona by nearly 10,500 votes and Maricopa County by over 45,100 votes.
The audit, so long after the election, is unprecedented and has been heavily contested by Democrats, some Republicans and Arizona election officials. State Senate Democrats say that the audit will “amplify baseless claims of voter fraud and diminish public trust in Arizona’s election system”. Despite numerous previous County audits that confirmed the initial election results and several failed lawsuits from former President Trump's campaign and its allies, the Republican-led State Senate subpoenaed the 2.1m ballots and decided to conduct the audit to (allegedly) ensure the integrity of Arizona's election system. It is alleged that the State Senate was pressured by the leaders of the Stop the Steal movement, Ali Alexander and Roger Stone, with Alexander even going as far as to state in an interview with Church Militant on January 13th that Stop the Steal “owned” the Arizona State Senate (well worth a watch on YouTube by the way).
You would think that the Republican-led State Senate of Arizona, having been granted permission to audit the results by a (Republican) Judge (of course), would choose a reputable, registered and experienced company to perform the audit following Federal guidelines. But you would be wrong. Instead, they chose a little known company called Cyber Ninjas. Cyber Ninjas is based in Trump’s home state of Florida which surely, I hear you ask, must be a coincidence? It has no previous experience with election audits, is not federally accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to test voting systems and has demonstrably been using techniques known to potentially destroy ballots such as the use of UV lights to scan ballots for watermarks which, as has been confirmed, are not used on ballot papers and is therefore irrelevant.
The CEO of Cyber Ninjas, Doug Logan is overseeing the election audit, despite spreading bizarre conspiracy theories that a company tied to long-dead Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez rigged voting machines against former President Donald Trump in November. On Twitter, Logan stated he believes there was election fraud and “people better get wise fast,” as reported by National Public Radio. Logan has also authored a document called “Election Fraud Facts & Details,” which cites debunked conspiracies and unproven allegations as proof of election fraud stating, “Some of it is based on my own research, but quite a bit is information I got from other people.”
In addition to the questionable selection of the company trusted with the ballots, voting machines and voter data, there are other concerns such as who is funding the operation? The Arizona State Senate has allocated $150,000 (of taxpayer money) to Cyber Ninjas but the audit will cost millions. So far, questions around funding have been unanswered but it is highly likely that the Stop the Steal movement is picking up some of the tab with donors such as Mike Lindell and Julie Jenkins Fancelli from Publix (yes, the same company that Ron DeSantis awarded exclusive vaccine rights in Florida – another coincidence?). Members of the public were also asked to donate to fund the recount directly to a group called the America Project whose Chief Executive is Patrick Byrne (former CEO of Overstock) who met with Trump at the White House on December 18th with Sydney Powell and Michael Flynn to discuss tactics to overturn the election.
There are also questions about the staff hired to perform the recount. Former Congressman Anthony Kern who was unseated by Democrat Judy Schwiebert in District 20 in November and is an avid Trump supporter who insists that the election was stolen and attended the Stop the Steal rally on January 6th is one of the staff members counting ballots. Ken Bennett, who is serving as the state Senate’s liaison for the audit run by Cyber Ninjas, said "there are safeguards in place to prevent a single person from affecting the recount results". That doesn't seem to alleviate my fears.
There are ongoing efforts to stop the recount or at least render the results invalid. A County official and the state Democratic Party argue the recount procedures violate state election laws and pose a security threat. The Brennan Center for Justice, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and Protect Democracy legal and voter advocacy groups sent a letter to the Justice Department Thursday saying they are "very concerned" the company performing the recount is "engaged in ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws."
The Arizona State Senate has said the audit's findings will not be used to overturn the 2020 election outcome which begs the question of why are they doing it then? Many lawmakers claim that it is purely being done as part of a process to review how to improve election integrity stating it is “part of their constitutional duty to write elections laws” (i.e. to substantiate the GOP appetite for implementing state level voter suppression bills) but there are far more sinister implications including perpetuating the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from Donald Trump and inciting the Trump-base to more civil unrest at a time when the Biden Administration is making clear progress bridging the divide and proposing ground-breaking bills that are popular with both Democrats and Republicans including the Infrastructure / Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan as well as pushing forward with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the PRO Act supporting unions and asking Congress to proceed with gun reform and voting rights acts (to name but a few).
At a recent gathering at Mar-a-Lago, Trump commandeered the microphone and stated the following:
“Let’s see what they find in Arizona. I wouldn’t be surprised if the found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes, so we’re going to watch that very closely. And after that you’ll watch Pennsylvania and you’ll watch Georgia, and you’re gonna watch Michigan and Wisconsin”.
It is clear that Arizona is just the tip of the iceberg as the twice impeached, one term, failed, former president Trump clutches to his comforter “Big Lie” in a desperate bid to, if not reclaim his role as President of the most powerful nation on Earth to, in the least, maintain the unquestionable devotion of his cult followers that he was robbed of his crown and that the Biden Administration was illegally installed in the White House.
Due to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix being booked for school graduation ceremonies, the recount will pause for a few days but is planned to be completed by May 15th.
The best-case scenario is that the results of the recount show no change since the original tally and subsequent recounts prior to certification of the electoral college votes. This would prove the effort to be fruitless and likely negate any further recount requests in other states such as Pennsylvania / Georgia etc.
Considering the cast of characters involved, the shady dealings, the questionable funding sources & the secrecy around the recount process itself, this is highly unlikely. It is far more likely that the final report from Cyber Ninjas miraculously finds thousands (and thousands and thousands as stated by Trump) of votes for the former twice impeached, one term, failed, former president Trump and he can declare victory and, no doubt, spend the next 6 months on Fox News, OANN & Newsmax stating “I told you so”. Either that or they will find thousands (and…you know the drill) of votes for President Biden that were somehow fraudulent. Either way, I personally have no doubt that the findings from Cyber Ninjas will be that Trump should have won Maricopa County and therefore Arizona State and its electoral college votes. In theory, it shouldn’t change anything as the State Senate has already voiced that the recount will have no impact on the election results themselves, but we all know that is a ruse. Their aim is to somehow “Confirm the Steal” to their base and deepen the rift between Republicans and Democrats.
The damage that this can cause to the country could be devastating. It will be the “proof” that Trump and his faithful acolytes need to rile his followers to further civil unrest and could be enough for them to take consequential action. This is a clear and present danger that should not be underestimated.
There is a worst-case scenario but, out of an abundance of caution, I will not put my fingers through the ordeal of typing that, nor you in reading it.
But trust me, there is one.