Secretary of State Democrat Katie Hobbs announced a settlement between the Democrats and one Maricopa Board Supervisor, also a Democrat, and the lead auditor, Cyber Ninjas, for the Maricopa County forensic audit of 2.1 million ballots and many election machines on Wednesday. UncoverDC has followed the audit and the litigation surrounding it extensively. Hobbs indicated that she is still actively monitoring the audit. The media and observers sent by her office have reported a “lack of best practices, constantly changing direction, and inadequate security measures.” 

Hobbs also “put the Senate on notice” in her letter to former Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, who is coordinating the audit with Senate President Karen Fann.

The settlement agreement lays out 13 points to which both parties have agreed. Highlights of the agreement include a stipulation that Cyber Ninja “and their agents will not compare signatures on early ballot envelopes with signatures from the voter registration files.” The agreement requires that all proper policies and procedures concerning the security and confidentiality of the ballots and investigation continue to be followed. Hobbs will continue to be allowed to send her own observers, “not to exceed three designees per shift,” into the building during the audit. The media will also enjoy less restricted access to the venue. Originally, the media was not supposed to be inside the Coliseum at all due to security concerns.

AZ Settlement Agreement/ADP v Fann

Both parties also agreed to specific legal and reporting procedures to follow should any of the items listed and agreed upon be in breach of contract.

Hobbs letter criticizes Cyber Ninjas’ as not having provided complete and/or granular information concerning its specific policies and procedures, stating that the pages that were provided were not informative and “the remaining pages fail to provide a sufficient level of detail to maintain accuracy and consistency among those performing a hand count of ballots, or otherwise leave out crucial information entirely.” Security, the process used for counting, and lack of training for the people working the audit were also criticisms leveled against the audit team.

Hobbs also lists incidents observed during the audit that do not meet her expectations for a secure audit, including but not limited to “ballots left unattended on tables, ballots being tallied using scrap paper rather than official tally sheets, errors being corrected in the same color pen, counters receiving training on the fly at counting tables, table leads correcting the tally sheets of counters, table assistants intermixing ballots from separate stacks, forensics team computers left unlocked and unattended, the use of cell phones on the counting floor…”

One independent observer, John Brakey, a Democrat and long-time election transparency activist, is there to ensure that the audit is being done with objectivity. He says this isn’t about the right or left, but he is on a “mission for facts.” He is a former Bernie Sanders supporter who sued “the whole state” in the 2016 election.

Rumors of airplanes flying over the Coliseum to spy on the audit have been debunked by Sgt. Maggie Cox, a Phoenix police spokesperson. Reporting by Politifact quotes Cox having requested a correction to the Gateway Pundit article. Cox stated that the airplane “was not over the coliseum. It has nothing to do with the events in the coliseum. It’s not over the audit—I verified that with the air unit.”  The Gateway Pundit later corrected its article.

According to Brahm Resnik, who reports for local station 12 News, Hobbs has a call scheduled with the Department of Justice to discuss the audit, presumably to follow up with a letter sent by the Brennan Center for Justice on April 29, as mentioned by UncoverDC’s Tracy Beanz in her interview on Real America’s Voice on Tuesday.

A letter from the Department of Justice on Wednesday to Fann indicates they may agree with Hobbs. The federal government should have little impact on the way a state conducts its audit, however.