The long-awaited and historic Arizona election audit presented last week undermines claims that America’s 2020 presidential election was the most secure ever, with over 57,000 likely illegal votes in one county, a criminal investigation looming and rising calls for decertification.
Not that you will hear this from any of the mainstream media. After having derided Arizona’s GOP Senate-driven audit for months as partisan and amateur, mainstream media is now crowing that the audit’s paper ballot recount nearly matched the official vote tally and even gave Biden a few more votes for a narrow win. ‘See, Biden won Arizona!’ But the same audit also found rampant irregularities, discrepancies and procedural failures at scale, ranging from the simply sloppy through to the likely fraudulent and the potentially criminal. Accept one finding, accept the others too.
Concerned by widespread claims of election fraud in the 3 November 2020 election, Arizona’s Senate ordered a forensic audit of the 2.1 million ballots in the most populous county, Maricopa. A Florida IT security firm, Cyber Ninjas, was hired to conduct the audit, which was delayed and disrupted by obstruction from Maricopa County officials. Senate President Karen Fann, while lauding the audit’s key finding of similar paper ballot tallies, lashed the County’s intransigence and outlined urgent concerns, including signature verification, voter rolls and lack of basic cyber security, including deleting the entire election database. ‘The audit found that Maricopa County overwrote the entire activity log in its Election Management System…. Maricopa County also failed to provide documentation sufficient to reconcile duplicated ballots to corresponding original ballots, refused to cooperate with the audit….’ Fann has referred the reports to the Attorney-General, who has promised a full probe and action as necessary.
The Arizona Senate heard findings that 23,344 voters had voted from prior addresses, that 17,322 duplicates were found, 10,342 voters voted in multiple counties, 9,041 voters returned more ballots than they received and a lucky 186 voters (same names, phone numbers, signatures and other details) had dual voter IDs and voted twice. Curiously, 720 voters had incomplete names, including only a last name, no last name, only an initial for first and/or last name, and so on – 393 of these votes counted. Bear in mind that Biden’s margin of victory in Arizona was 10,457 and Maricopa is just one county, although the most populous.
Further, massive numbers of computer election files were purged, many on the day before the audit, and because election administrators shared passwords and usernames, that perpetrator could not be identified. However, auditor Ben Cotton revealed that through timestamps and video footage they had identified the person at the machine at that time – at which point the Senate crowd cheered. Moreover, Cotton said the election machines had had substantial internet connections and history, contrary to the County’s claims. Oddly, election data from South Carolina and Washington State was also found on the examined machines.
This is an early cut of the evidence, written in the hours after the Senate presentation of a slew of reports, and no doubt further updates will clarify the results. All elections have some error and fraud, of course; what matters is whether it will change the result. The effort to make this audit forensic ran up against Maricopa County’s refusal to provide critical election material such as voter rolls, provisional votes and routers, even under subpoena and after four court cases, so we still do not have the full story. A canvass to confirm voter rolls has not occurred, for example, and Cyber Ninjas have more reports to deliver, including an analysis of the ten types of paper used in the ballots.
Nonetheless, the audit was the first-ever event of its magnitude, and 18 states sent representatives to observe the process. 2.1 million votes were hand counted, with 1,500 mainly volunteers spending 100,000 hours on the task in the Phoenix Coliseum. Texas has now announced a 2020 election audit in four counties and efforts are underway to repeat the audit nationwide, especially in swing states.
Having listened to most of the hearing, which included multiple presenters covering different aspects, I felt that Arizona’s creaky election machinery – like much US infrastructure (JFK airport, anyone?) – had been exposed in all its shabbiness. Yes, the paper ballots tallies were similar, but were those votes legal? Procedures and systems were and remain ramshackle and open to abuse at scale. And at times it was the horse and buggy era meeting Star Wars. Tech expert Dr Shiva Ayyadurai, who holds the US patent for email, examined the envelopes of accepted mail-in ballots, drilling down on signatures to one pixel. He found over 4,000 had either a blank signature or merely a scribble, defined as having ‘a non-white pixel density of 0.1 per cent – 1 per cent’. This could be simply a short straight line. He also showed ballot envelopes which had been pre-approved, with the signature box printed over the approval stamp. Shiva also said that nearly all the mail-in ballot envelopes that surged in after election day were duplicates – ballot envelopes from people who’d already sent one in. A random sampling of these duplicates found that before the poll nearly all signatures were legible, but in those that arrived after, only five per cent were. If you were a bad actor wanting to adjust the paper ballot tallies to the ‘right result’, this would be one way to do it.
In leaked audio recently, one of Maricopa County’s five governing supervisors, Steve Chucri conceded many criticisms of the election and the Dominion machines, even saying that the County’s own audit was ‘pretty bull—-’. His colleagues had been too scared for their own election race results to go with a real audit, he told the election integrity group meeting. ‘Shame on us for you having to do what you’ve done,’ he said in reference to the audit. Chucri resigned after the audio came out.
Is Arizona’s result typical? According to former Trump advisor and election report author Dr Peter Navarro, it had been thought one of the cleaner states. What the audit has revealed so far will provide ammunition for both sides of this argument, with Biden fans touting the paper ballot match-up and Trump fans pointing to the ugly election entrails exposed by the audit. This result will not allay election suspicions.
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