In a letter (pdf) to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, DOJ Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan cited news reports to inquire about the custody of the ballots currently under review by a group of private contractors. Karlan also complained that a portion of the audit work that involves canvassing the addresses on the ballots may amount to “voter intimidation.”
“The first issue relates to a number of reports suggesting that the ballots, elections systems, and election materials that are the subject of the Maricopa County audit are no longer under the ultimate control of state and local elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed,” Karlan wrote, citing a pair of news articles as the source for her allegations.
One of the articles Karlan cited, alleged that there were security lapses in the audit process. The only evidence the article offered for the claim are the opinions of a local Democrat politician and a security expert, both of whom formed their opinions based on a video prepared by a local news channel. The second and third articles Karlan cited were published in January and February, before the venue and the contractors for the audit were selected.
Karlan also raised concerns about a plan by one of the audit contractors, Cyber Ninjas, to verify the validity of certain voter registrations with questionable addresses by dispatching people to verify whether the voter lived at the address on the registrations.
“This description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters. The Department enforces a number of federal statutes that prohibit intimidation of persons for voting or attempting to vote,” Karlan wrote, citing a section of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits voter intimidation.
“Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act,” Karlan added. “Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future.”
Fann’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who opposes the audit, wrote on Twitter that she’s “glad to finally see an enforcement agency ready to protect Arizona voters.”
“On the heels of my letter highlighting security shortfalls at the ‘audit’ and potential for voter intimidation, DOJ is raising those same concerns, including that ballots aren’t properly safeguarded,” Hobbs said.
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, a Republican tapped by Fann as the audit’s liaison, told The Epoch Times on May 3 that the audit may last until mid-May, longer than initially expected. The auditors are perusing more than two million ballots cast in Arizona during the 2020 election, along with 385 tabulators and other machines used last year.
The analysis of equipment used in the 2020 election was completed over the weekend. But the review of ballots and other paper materials “might need to be extended a little bit,” Bennett said.