All eyes are focused on the Veteran's Colosseum in Arizona, where the forensic audit of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election and hundreds of Dominion voting machines is now taking place. According to Rep. Mark Finchem, who was featured yesterday in a podcast with Tracy Beanz, this "has never been done in the history of our country." The Arizona legislature, which has plenary authority to conduct oversight of an election, is determined to find the truth about the 2020 election. Members of the Senate say that they have no preconceived outcome in mind concerning the audit results. Finchem points out that "the American people have never surrendered their right to scrutinize an election." The 45 min. interview can be found below:
The latest development in the polarizing investigation is the reluctant release by Cyber Ninjas of the Exhibit D policies and procedures behind the operations of their audit on Thursday. Cyber Ninjas had argued that the policies and procedures contained in Exhibit D in the complaint should be kept secret because of immunity and privilege on the part of the Republican-led Senate who ordered the audit. On Wednesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge, Daniel Martin, allowed the audit to continue but gave Cyber Ninjas until Thursday to appeal his decision to make their Exhibit D materials publically available. Apparently, no such appeal took place, so those documents were publicly released and found in the links below.
The Democrat party and a Maricopa County Board Supervisor filed a complaint on Apr. 22 arguing the audit violates state law, as reported by UncoverDC. They claim that the lead team, Cyber Ninjas, has not provided the necessary proof to indicate that they are conducting a secure audit that protects the identities of Arizona voters. They requested twice to initiate a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the audit. They twice were eventually rejected—once on Apr.23 by now recused Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Coury and a second time on Apr. 27 by Judge Martin.
The released materials are comprised of three documents that describe the audit team's policies and procedures for the various pieces of the forensic audit. As reported by UncoverDC, the team led by Cyber Ninjas comprises four separate entities; Wake Technology Services Inc., CyFIR, LLC, Digital Discovery, and Cyber Ninjas, Inc.
The first document is a 27-page resource that, according to the document, "will serve as a starting point for the policies and procedures for the collection, handling, and processing of digital evidence." The manual provides specific guidance for those conducting the audit to collect, handle, and process digital devices like "Computers, cellphones, GPS devices, digital cameras, and other devices" seized by the auditors.
The second document speaks to the security measures for handling evidence tailored to the security limitations of the Colosseum venue. It establishes procedures like the locations and parameters of onsite evidence storage and forensic imaging areas, the procedures for monitoring evidence, evidence handling and chain of custody issues, training, and the specification that no imaging system be publicly connected to the internet following validation.
The third 18-page document concerns Wake TSI counting floor procedures. The document covers the policies and procedures for anything having to do with the physical ballots. This includes, among other procedures and policies, publicly available 24-hour video monitoring, the handling, and counting of ballots, chain-of-custody, and the highly contentious issue of privacy of voters' identifying information on the ballot materials. Below is a snapshot of the "Personally Identifying Information Policy" when handling ballots:
Personally-Identifying Information Policy/Wake TSI/Arizona Forensic Audit
The right to privacy has been a primary focus for those conducting the audit and Democrats alike. However, the Senate was also adamant that the paid and volunteer workers would also enjoy the protection of their identities—due to the potential for harassment and intimidation because of the contentious battle over the audit. Therefore, initially, the media was not allowed in the building. However, according to the Detroit Free Press, after having "joined together to hire an attorney to push for media access... [on Apr. 27] journalists obtained pool access to the audit, meaning one reporter, one photographer, and one videographer could be there at a time, in a designated area." It seems the restrictions were for good reason because there are now video feeds, like the one here from ABC15 Arizona, that easily allow facial recognition of the workers inside.
UncoverDC spoke briefly on Friday with Rep. Finchem about the media's release of their own ongoing audit video feed because he had explicitly expressed that no media should be present in the building during the audit. This public release of a media video feed where workers are identifiable "is designed to intimidate," said Finchem. "It is an example of the length to which the media will act as an agent for the Democrats to intimidate people who are there for a noble purpose. Members of the legislature are furious. This is exactly what we have tried to avoid.' The media and the Democrats "want us to sit down and shut up," he added.
Additionally, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs had been pushing to get her own observers in the building. ABC15 reports that Hobbs now has three people working as monitors inside, "an election machine expert and two election auditing professionals."
ABC15 reports that the observers are "Ryan Macias [who is] the former acting director of certification and testing for the U.S. election assistance commission. Macias certified Arizona’s voting machines. The two other observers are Jennifer Morell, an election consultant with Protect Democracy, and Liz Howard, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice. Until Thursday, Secretary of State Hobbs was denied access to monitor the audit; a judge later ordered her office be allowed. Senate President Karen Fann, who is orchestrating the recount, and Hobbs worked out an arrangement before a noon deadline."
It should also be noted that several individuals from the Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy, and The Leadership Conference Education Fund sent a letter on Thursday to Chris Herren, Chief of the Voting Section Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. The letter requests the "[deployment] of federal monitors" to Veteran's Colosseum, claiming that they 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 1) 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, and 2) preparing to engage in conduct which will constitute unlawful voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws."
Finchem says tough luck. "It's a state election concerning offices voted on by Arizona voters." The auditors have until May 14 to complete their examination of the ballots and the election machines. The audit began on Apr. 23. Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, who speaks in the video below, presents daily public updates on the latest developments surrounding the ongoing audit.