WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a letter sent to Maricopa County election officials on Thursday, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) recommended that the county replace all the voting machines that the Republican state Senate turned over to private firms for conducting an unnecessary audit. The state Senate hired private firms, including Cyber Ninjas, Inc. led by a stop-the-steal conspiracy theorist, to conduct an audit of over 2 million votes in the county, and handed over millions of dollars of election equipment to the private companies. Hobbs notes in her letter that official observers from her office were not allowed to remain in the room while Cyber Ninjas examined the machines, meaning they were unable to “ensure physical security and proper chain of custody” of the equipment.
This is the latest update in this concerning and disruptive audit process. Earlier this month, Republicans were forced to halt their door-to-door canvassing efforts after the U.S. Department of Justice wrote a letter outlining concerns that such activity would amount to illegal voter intimidation. A judge ordered that the firms involved in the audit must make the process public and allow observers from the secretary of state’s office to be present after the Arizona Democratic Party sued. And on Thursday, a non-partisan watchdog group sued for the release of all audit-related documentation, from both the state Senate and private firms, in a record request under Arizona’s Public Records Law.