Politics

Arizona’s Maricopa County Will Replace Election Equipment That Cyber Ninjas Got For “Audit”

In May, the Arizona Secretary of State sent a letter strongly recommending that Maricopa County decommission the equipment.

A contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, works to recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. | Getty Images
A contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, works to recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. | Getty Images

Arizona’s Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced Monday that it will replace the voting equipment that was in the hands of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company conducting an “audit” of the state’s 2020 election results. 

“The voters of Maricopa County can rest assured, the County will never use equipment that could pose a risk to free and fair elections,” the county said in a statement.

After voting concluded in the 2020 election, Arizona’s GOP-controlled Senate subpoenaed nearly 400 election machines from Maricopa County — Arizona’s most populous county. The state’s Republicans hired Cyber Ninjas to re-audit 2.1 million ballots cast in the county during the 2020 election. Local election officials separately conducted two separate audits that affirmed there were no irregularities in the county.

Monday’s announcement is in response to a letter Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) sent in May to the county’s Board of Supervisors, in which she expressed her “grave concerns regarding the security and integrity of these machines, given that the chain of custody, a critical security tenet, has been compromised.”

Secretary Hobbs said it’s unclear if Cyber Ninjas followed procedures “to ensure physical security and proper chain of custody” for the election equipment. With the lack of a "continuous, clearly visible livestream of the area where voting equipment was stored and handled" and in the absence of any officials or expert observers approved by the Secretary of State’s office presiding over the audit, Secretary Hobbs said it’s unclear “who accessed the voting equipment and what might have been done to them.”

The safest option, Hobbs said, is to decommission and replace those devices. 

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said it shares Sec. Hobbs’ concerns.

Maricopa County did not specify how much it will cost to replace the equipment. According to the Arizona Republic, the county isn’t liable for any damages to the equipment while it’s in the Senate’s custody. Fields Moseley, the county communications director, told the Arizona Republic that the county’s Board of Supervisors has not yet decided if it will ask the Senate to cover the costs of replacing the machines.

The Cyber Ninjas’ recount has been criticized by Republican Maricopa County leadership, and several reports and firsthand accounts have documented the cybersecurity company’s messy methods. Also, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan is reportedly featured in a conspiracy-ridden documentary about the 2020 election.

According to The Washington Post, Cyber Ninjas said it has finished its manual recount but results from its review won’t be released until August.

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