The Skinny: The Fraudit Doesn’t Add Up

This might be the stupidest thing we’ve ever seen at the Arizona Legislature—and we’re old enough to remember when they wanted to create Gila monster ranches to get around the Endangered Species Act


Senate President Karen Fann just can't understand why so many people view her so-called "audit" of Maricopa's 2020 election as a sad and pathetic joke.

During an appearance on Phoenix PBS affiliate KAET-TV last week, the Prescott Republican fell back on the argument that so many critics don't want the audit done, she's beginning to think there's something to hide.

"They do not want this audit done," Fann told Horizon host Ted Simons. "They talk about conspiracy theories, but I'll tell you what, there's almost a reverse conspiracy theory trying to demean this audit."

Karen, if an angry bully told you your home's foundation was bad, but legit contractors told you the foundation was fine, would you go ahead and hire contractors with zero experience in repairing foundations? If your contractors showed up, tore down your house and started replacing it with a bamboo hut, would you still think it was a good idea? If they told you it was going to take four months to build your bamboo hut because they couldn't hire enough people, would that work for you?

Let's run through some of the reasons that so many people—including Republicans, such as Arizona Sen. Paul Boyer, who told the New York Times last week that he regretted voting for the "ridiculous" audit because "it makes us look like idiots"—think your audit is a big fat joke.

1. The election was audited more than once under the oversight of the GOP-controlled GOP Maricopa Board of Supervisors using a legitimate process. Nothing was off.

2. Fann hired a company named Cyber Ninjas, which has zero experience in auditing elections. These guys didn't even know what color pens to use during the recount.

3. Cyber Ninjas' CEO Doug Logan has a history of supporting nutty conspiracy theories about how the election was stolen by Donald Trump.

4. The company was clearly overwhelmed by the scope of work, as they have counted somewhere around 250,000 of the 2.1 million ballots. Unless they step up the pace, this count is going to continue until the dog days of August.

5. While blocking legitimate reporters from observing the audit (before finally allowing the press to sit up in the stands where they can see almost nothing), the audit team has given special access to the Trump propaganda operations One America News (OAN) and Gateway Pundit.

6. Speaking of OAN, the network is raising money from unknown sources to fund the operation because the Senate only authorized $150,000 from the state to pay for it. (The crowdfunding efforts are continuing despite the Arizona Legislature passing a law this year that blocked local and state governments from accepting outside nonprofit funding for election support, voter-registration drives and the like.)

7. A hand count of 2.1 million ballots—especially one that's conducted without clear policies and procedures while being interrupted by graduation events because no one thought about how long it would take (see reason No. 4 above)—is going to be more inaccurate than a machine count. It's human nature to screw up stuff like that. There are studies if you want to look them up.

8. It's not even clear what the Cyber Ninjas team is doing beyond the sure-to-be-flawed hand count; For a while, they were looking for secret watermarks with UV light; last week, we learned that they are trying to figure out if there's bamboo in the paper ballots in order to determine if secret Asian enemies smuggled in tens of thousands of ballots.

And those are just highlights. Yes, "ridiculous" is one word to describe this farce.

By handing over control of the ballots to the half-assed Cyber Ninjas team, Fann has ensured that whatever results come out of this, normal people will always be skeptical of any results that show issues with the election. And if Cyber Ninjas deliver a report with false-but-damning conclusions, the Trumpers will have more “evidence” to further their Big Lie that the election was stolen—which, sadly, somewhere around 70% of Republicans already believe, according to some polling.

Sadly, that belief that the election is stolen is giving life to GOP efforts to pass more voter-suppression bills during the current legislative session. They want to throw roadblocks in the path of early voting (which the vast majority of Arizonans now use), find new ways to toss ballots and generally make it harder for Arizonans to cast a vote. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich are saying they have no opinion on this whole affair as the Senate is a co-equal branch of government, so lawmakers can do whatever they want. As Secretary of State Katie Hobbs—who now needs a protective squad of state troopers because she’s getting so many death threats as a result of her criticism of this disgraceful comedy—pointed out, Brnovich raced to investigate Sharpiegate, an early conspiracy theory that anti-Trump forces snuck Sharpies into voting booths in an effort to disqualify GOP votes on Election Day. Now Brno is doing a Sgt. Schultz routine in order to keep the GOP base mollified as he ponders whether to run for an open gubernatorial seat in 2022 or take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

It’s a shame that our democracy has been hijacked by a Florida con man. It’s a far bigger shame that Republican elected officials are willing to further its collapse with bogus stupidity like this audit.