October 21, 2021

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Cyber Ninjas releases findings on Maricopa County election audit – AZFamily

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Cyber Ninjas has released its findings on Friday about the Maricopa County election audit of the 2020 General Election. While it confirmed that final results were similar to those certified from the county, including that President Joe Biden won the county, auditors said the report reveals other problems with the election, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity and integrity of the vote.

Five people, including Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, whose firm has never conducted an election audit before, publicly outlined its findings on the Senate floor Friday afternoon.

GOP Senate President Karen Fann has said that the goal for the audit was not to overturn the election results but rather to evaluate the state’s election processes and see if changes to state laws were needed.

“What you have not seen is about the statutes that were broken,” Fann said during Friday’s presentation. She sent a letter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich detailing specific areas where the state’s election processes can be improved. Fann says she views the signature verification process and the state’s voter rolls as imperfect. Additionally, she claims that the technology and machines that the county used is “too complicated” and claims that the county failed to take basic cybersecurity measures. 

Ballot Tally

The findings by Cyber Ninjas revealed that Biden received 99 more votes than the original canvass conducted by Maricopa County. It also said Trump got 261 fewer votes. 

  Trump Biden Total
Maricopa County Forensic Audit 995,404 1,040,873 2,088,569
Official Maricopa County Canvass 995,665 1,040,774 2,089,563
Difference (261) 99 (994)
Source: A draft report of the election audit results obtained by Arizona’s Family. We did not include the data for the Libertarian candidate or write-in votes.

On Thursday night, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairmen Jack Sellers released a statement saying the “tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters. That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise.”

Cyber Ninjas outlines issues with mail-in ballots

During the presentation, Shiva Ayyadurai, who identifies himself as the inventor of email and an expert in pattern recognition with more than 40 years of experience, raised issues with the signature verification system. Maricopa County says at no point was the verification requirement relaxed.

Blank Signatures & Duplicate Ballots Counted

Ayyadurai showed a presentation slide where he claims one person received two unique Voter ID numbers — signaling a possible issue with duplicate ballots. He wants the county to answer whether or not they received any duplicate early-voting ballots. Maricopa County claims that Cyber Ninjas did not take into account the fact that many Arizonans share the same name. 

Cyber Ninja Elections Audit

Duplicate ballots favored McSally & Trump

Additionally, Cyber Ninjas said the alleged duplicate ballots they discovered favor Trump, Martha McSally, and independent presidential candidate Jorgenson.

Duplicate ballots favored Trump, McSally

Ayyadurai also claims the county “verified and approved” ballots even when the signature box was left unsigned — he is calling for a full signature verification audit. The County says it hired additional staff to contact voters to cure their signature within five days of Election Day, as allowed by state law.

Cyber Ninja’s Audit Process

Doug Logan, the audit company’s CEO, says the 2.1 million ballots were processed by hand — all handled with multiple layers of security. He says that all counters were County residents who voted in the last election. Each person was run through a background check, and counted “blind” without being allowed to talk. Part of the paper examination included high-resolution images of front-and-back of all ballots. 

During a technical analysis of the County’s servers, it highlighted possible breaches of data integrity as due to thousands of deleted files that are believed to be linked to the elections. One presentation slide by Ben Cotton, the CyFIR founder, suggests that an administrator account deleted the entire General Election Results on Feb. 1, 2021 in the Election Management System. In a tweet, election officials said they don’t keep the information in there permanently, but are rather stored in the archives.

In reference to Maricopa County destroying evidence or data — the County  wrote that they strongly deny any staff intentionally deleting data. “We have backups for all Nov. data & those archives were never subpoenaed.” 

Cotton also cites failure to update the operating system, and antivirus software, which would require the servers to be connected to the internet. The county has previously said that no tabulation equipment was internet-connected during the General Election cycle as a security precaution. 

Maricopa County Responds

The Cyber Ninjas report claims a number of shortcomings in election procedures and suggested the final tally still could not be relied upon. Several were challenged by election experts, while members of the Republican-led county Board of Supervisors, which oversees elections, disputed claims on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, the report is also littered with errors & faulty conclusions about how Maricopa County conducted the 2020 General Election,” county officials tweeted.

Election officials say that’s because the review team is biased, ignored the detailed vote-counting procedures in Arizona law and had no experience in the complex field of election audits. 

On Friday, the County tweeted a “fact check” thread where it disputed most of the election issues brought up by auditors. Some of those disputes involve mail-in ballots, address mismatches and people voting in multiple counties. Election officials continue to refute those claims by stating those cases involve common names of multiple people, military and overseas voters, and recent address changes.

Earlier this summer, the County launched a website called “Just The Facts” to address what they called misinformation. And the state’s Secretary of State released a lengthy report claiming that the audit was filled with “security lapses, delays, disorganization, and lack of transparency.”

Mixed Reactions

Still, for many critics, the conclusions reached by the firm Cyber Ninjas and presented at a hearing Friday, underscored the dangerous futility of the exercise, which has helped fuel skepticism about the validity of the 2020 election and spawned copycat audits nationwide.

“We haven’t learned anything new,” said Matt Masterson, a top U.S. election security official in the Trump administration. “What we have learned from all this is that the Ninjas were paid millions of dollars, politicians raised millions of dollars and Americans’ trust in democracy is lower.”

Other critics said the true purpose of the audit may have already succeeded. It spread complex allegations about ballot irregularities and software issues, fueling doubts about elections, said Adrian Fontes, a Democrat who oversaw the Maricopa County election office last year.

“They are trying to scare people into doubting the system is actually working,” he said. “That is their motive. They want to destroy public confidence in our systems.”

Supporters of the audit claim it brought election systems failures to light and will help them enact legislation to improve the process.

Stay with Arizona’s Family as this story develops.

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