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Election Experts Send Letter to the Department of Justice on Arizona Audits

Election experts wrote a letter to Chris Herren, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, requesting that he deploy federal monitors to the location of the Arizona audit.

Published: April 29, 2021

We write to request that you deploy federal monit­ors to the Arizona Veter­ans Memorial Coli­seum, where agents of the Arizona Senate are review­ing ballots as part of a so-called audit of votes cast for federal office in the 2020 general elec­tion in Mari­copa County. This work is being conduc­ted by Cyber Ninjas, a firm retained by the state senate, along with its subcon­tract­ors, as part of a review of elec­tion results, or “audit,” commis­sioned by the state senate. It includes the hand­ling and review of approx­im­ately 2.1 million ballots and other elec­tion mater­i­als, which a court compelled Mari­copa County elec­tion offi­cials to trans­fer into the senate’s custody after the senate issued a subpoena for them.

We are very concerned that the audit­ors are engaged in ongo­ing and immin­ent viol­a­tions of federal voting and elec­tion laws. Specific­ally, we believe that the senate and its agents, includ­ing Cyber Ninjas, are viol­at­ing their duty under federal law to retain and preserve ballots cast in a federal elec­tion, which are and have been in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irre­triev­ably damaged. They failed to ensure the phys­ical secur­ity of ballots by keep­ing doors unlocked and allow­ing unau­thor­ized persons to access the ballot stor­age facil­ity. They also risk comprom­ising the integ­rity of the ballots them­selves, using mater­i­als and tech­no­lo­gies that will cause the ballot paper and marks to deteri­or­ate, such as hold­ing ballots to ultra-violet light without gloves. And, by restrict­ing access to the audit by nonpar­tisan observ­ers, elec­tion admin­is­trat­ors and voting machine experts, they are fail­ing to ensure that the audit is trans­par­ent.

Addi­tion­ally, we are concerned that Cyber Ninjas, the senate, and its agents are prepar­ing to engage in conduct that will consti­tute unlaw­ful voter intim­id­a­tion in viol­a­tion of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws. The audit proced­ures described in the Cyber Ninjas’ Audit Scope of Work author­ize deploy­ing agents to “phys­ic­ally canvass” Mari­copa County voters and “collect inform­a­tion” related to voter history. Voter intim­id­a­tion can take many forms. Regard­less of the fact that these actions will occur after the 2020 Elec­tion, they consti­tute intim­id­a­tion because they seek to stoke fear amongst Arizon­ans of exer­cising their funda­mental right to vote in future elec­tions. 

The Depart­ment of Justice has author­ity to monitor this process pursu­ant to Section 10302 of Title 52 of the United States Code. Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the Depart­ment has “regu­larly monitored elec­tions in the field” and “around the coun­try through­out every year to protect the rights of all voters.” Depart­ment monit­or­ing is crit­ical to the protec­tion of civil rights and the enforce­ment of voting rights and elec­tion laws. Elec­tion monit­ors “have a unique abil­ity to help deter wrong­do­ing, defuse tension, promote compli­ance with the law and bolster public confid­ence in the elect­oral process.” The need is espe­cially urgent here, as there are ongo­ing and immin­ent viol­a­tions of federal elec­tion laws in Arizona, and these viol­a­tions may be used to justify further intru­sions on Arizon­ans’ voting rights.

For the reas­ons explained above, we request that you send federal monit­ors as soon as prac­tic­able to the Arizona Veter­ans Memorial Coli­seum located at 1826 W McDow­ell Road, Phoenix, Arizona. Ballots that are protec­ted under federal law are in immin­ent danger of being stolen, defaced, or irre­triev­ably damaged, and Arizona citizens are in immin­ent danger of being subject to unlaw­ful voter intim­id­a­tion as a result of flawed audit proced­ures.