The company leading a ballot recount effort in Arizona for the 2020 election is asking a court to allow it to keep its procedures secret and hidden from the public, prompting transparency concerns.
The Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate contracted Florida-based Cyber Ninja and is paying the company $150,000 to conduct a recount of 2.1 million general election ballots in Maricopa County, which encompasses the metro Phoenix area.
On Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury requested that the company turn over its plans and procedures including training materials amid concerns regarding voter privacy and ballot security.
“The Senate has told us that they are running this so-called audit, but they had abdicated their duty entirely to rogue actors who are making a mockery … of our election laws and our procedures,” Roopali Desai, an attorney representing Gallardo and the state Democratic Party, told the judge. “There’s no safeguards in place. There’s no proper training, there’s no procedures, no rules.”
“I do not want to micromanage and it is not the posture of this court to micromanage — or even to manage — the process by which another branch of government, the Legislature, the Arizona state Senate, proceeds,” Coury said. “However, it is the province of the court to ensure voter information and those constitutional protections are held sacrosanct and that also includes the protection of ballots under Arizona law.”
On Sunday, however, attorneys for Cyber Ninja argued that complying with the judge’s request would compromise the recount’s security as well as reveal protected trade secrets. The company claimed it the documents are protected by legislative privilege since the recount is being done at the behest of the state Senate.
The company also requested that the public and media be kept out of a hearing where a judge was to review the company’s policies and procedures for maintaining voter privacy and ballot secrecy in the recount process.
The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, also a Democrat, have filed a lawsuit against the state Senate to stop the recount, claiming it violates state election law. On Friday, the judge told the state Democratic Party that he would suspend the recount temporarily if $1 million bond was paid to cover any resulting costs. The Democrats refused to pay that amount, saying it was too high.
Also on Sunday, the original judge in the case, Coury, recused himself from the case because one of Cyber Ninjas’ lawyers had worked in his office within the past five years.
Arizona was the subject of many conspiracy theories surrounding the November presidential election after it was called for President Biden. Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since 1996. Those who believe election fraud was pervasive in the 2020 general election have looked to the Maricopa county recount in hopes that it will be what proves their theory of widespread election fraud.