Auditors at the GOP recount of presidential ballots in Arizona were reportedly allowed to bring guns to the operation — as long as the weapons remained concealed, according to an observer report for the office of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D).
A court order allowed non-partisan observers to watch the operation at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the audit of 2.1 million votes in Maricopa County — including Phoenix — was ongoing.
The observation about weapons on site, first reported by the Arizona Mirror, was listed among several “security concerns.” Others included unattended ballots, material marked “confidential” and left in unsupervised areas and the use of black pens. Pens with black and blue ink, which can be read by voting machines, were prohibited from recount operations in the state to ensure the pens could not be used to alter votes.
🚨UPDATE: Secretary of State observers confirm additional security concerns in the partisan ballot review taking place at the Coliseum. You can find the new observations here: https://t.co/75kgFQNR76 pic.twitter.com/WE5Fe5a52f
— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) June 22, 2021
Ken Bennett, the state Senate’s own liaison, was spotted with a cell phone on the floor, which was also not allowed at recount operations as a security precaution, per the observers’ report. Phones were banned because they could be used to photograph ballots, confidential information and voters’ personal data.
Earlier this month, copies of voting system data were whisked away to a secret hideout in Montana. Bennett called the location a “super lab,” but it was located at the home address of a subcontractor for the Cyber Ninjas, the firm conducting the audit. Bennett confirmed that the data may include “sensitive” private voter information.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Hobbs, who’s running for governor of Arizona, told CNN. “If it wasn’t happening right in front of our eyes, we wouldn’t believe it was happening.”
I am deeply concerned that the Cyber Ninjas have moved Maricopa County election data to a residence in Montana – over 1,300 miles from Phoenix – for no discernible reason. This #fraudit madness needs to stop. https://t.co/3Ncqsjkph0
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) June 17, 2021
Arizona Senate Republicans ordered the audit, but only for races won by Democrats.
Cyber Ninjas, which has no experience with auditing elections, is headed by conspiracy theorist Doug Logan, a promoter of the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was rigged. In the past, Logan has posted messages that claimed “hundreds of thousands” of new votes would inevitably be found for Donald Trump.
Several months ago, a reporter for the Arizona Republic pointed out the violation — and danger — of having blue pens at the recount to Logan. He told the journalist he believed only black pens were prohibited. Now black pens have been spotted.
Doug is running this audit. He told me that his understanding was that blue ink was fine – that the ballots only read black ink.Then he came back and said actually it seems I am correct. But he still seemed unsure. He said that they would work on this.
— Jen Fifield (@JenAFifield) April 23, 2021
Election officials have warned that large numbers of unsecured ballots may already have been altered or trashed and were now unreliable, and that manipulation of voting machines had rendered them unusable for future elections.