Arizona Audit Has 'Too Many Flaws' to Trust Results, Says Former Republican Official

As Cyber Ninjas prepares to present its findings from a widely criticized audit of the 2020 election results in Arizona's Maricopa County, some Republicans are strongly criticizing the process the Florida-based company followed.

Trey Grayson, a Republican who served as Kentucky's Secretary of State from 2004 to 2011, dismissed the trustworthiness of the audit in remarks to the Associated Press published on Sunday. "There are too many flaws in the way this review was conducted to trust it," Grayson said.

Arizona's state Senate Republicans had used biased and inexperienced contractors to carry out the audit, he said, adding that they often used unusual and unreliable methods to conduct the process. Arizona Republicans had also turned to funders who readily promoted conspiracy theories.

Cyber Ninjas in Arizona
Many Republicans have repeatedly criticized the Cyber Ninjas audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County, Arizona. In this photo, a contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona state Senate, transports ballots from the general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1 in Phoenix. Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In June, Grayson co-authored a report outlining the problems with the Cyber Ninjas audit in Arizona.

"The processes and procedures being used to conduct the Cyber Ninjas review deviate significantly from standard practices for election reviews and audits, as described in this report. Because of these untrustworthy practices and the partisan leanings of those doing the review, any findings by the review are suspect and should not be trusted," that report concluded.

Ben Ginsberg, a prominent Republican election attorney, told the AP that the funding for the audit merited suspicion. Groups supporting former President Donald Trump have raised more than $5 million for the audit, compared to just $150,000 that came from the Arizona state Senate.

"The audience is the funders," Ginsberg said. "The outside funding sources is really important to concentrate on in terms of talking about the legitimacy of the audit."

Cyber Ninjas is scheduled to submit its report on Monday. The Florida-based company is owned by Doug Logan, who previously retweeted posts promoting claims that Trump lost the 2020 election due to widespread voter fraud. Those who helped conduct the audit were recruited from Republican activist groups as well.

GOP officials from Maricopa County have repeatedly rejected the claims that the election was fraudulent. Jack Sellers, a Republican who chairs the county's board of supervisors, described the audit as an "adventure in never-never land" in a statement earlier this month.

"It is now August of 2021. The election of November 2020 is over," Sellers said at the time. "If you haven't figured out that the election in Maricopa County was free, fair, and accurate yet, I'm not sure you ever will."

Last week, Stephen Richer, a Republican who serves as Maricopa's county recorder, released a 38-page letter to fellow Republicans slamming the audit and explaining its many flaws.

"More than any moral code, philosophical agenda, interest group, or even team red vs. team blue, many politicians will simply do whatever it takes to stay in office," Richer wrote.

"Right now, a lot of Republican politicians have their fingers in the wind and think that conforming to Stop the Steal, or at least staying quiet about it, is necessary for reelection in their ruby red districts or a statewide Republican primary. So that's what they'll do. Multiple elected or hoping-to-be-elected Republicans have told me this explicitly," he added. "It's disgusting."

Karen Fann, the Republican president of the Arizona state Senate, dismissed the criticism of the audit in a Sunday email to Newsweek.

"Considering the audit report has not been finished or released, I find it interesting that some folks are commenting on 'flaws' based on hearsay or reading biased news articles," Fann said. The Arizona Republican has repeatedly pushed back against the criticism and argued that the audit is necessary to ensure trust in the state's elections.

Richer argued in his recent letter that the process had done precisely the opposite, however. "The Ninja audit is an abomination that has so far eroded election confidence and defamed good people," he wrote.

Maricopa County previously conducted a hand recount of 47,000 ballots following the election. That process was carried out by appointees from the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties. The hand count matched the machine count 100 percent.

Trump has pushed for similar audits in other key battleground states, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Although the former president continues to claim that the 2020 election was rife with widespread voter fraud, the allegation has been thoroughly litigated and discredited.

Dozens of election challenge lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies have failed in state and federal courts. Even judges appointed by Trump and other Republicans have rejected the often bizarre allegations. Audits and recounts in key battleground states—including in areas where the election was overseen by pro-Trump officials—have reaffirmed Biden's victory.

Former Attorney General William Barr, who was widely viewed as one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet members, said in December that there was "no evidence" to corroborate the claims of widespread fraud. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security said after the election that it was the "most secure in American history." The federal agency, which was led by a Trump appointee at the time, asserted that there was "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

This article has been updated with comments from Karen Fann.