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Firm releases policies in Arizona vote recount

by BOB CHRISTIE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | April 30, 2021 at 4:10 a.m.
Some of the 2.1 million ballots cast during the 2020 election, are brought in for recounting at a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX -- The contractor overseeing the Arizona Senate's unprecedented recount of 2.1 million ballots from the November election complied with a court order Thursday and released its policies for ensuring voter privacy and ballot secrecy.

The release of three documents by Florida-based Cyber Ninjas came a day after a Maricopa County judge refused to allow the company or the Republican-led Senate to keep the material secret and ordered it made public. Judge Daniel Martin gave them a day to appeal, but they declined.

Cyber Ninjas said in a statement that its goal "is for the public to be able to read the documents themselves and see that the process and the procedures are sound." The company, which fought the release in court, now said the release is part of "ongoing efforts to be transparent" and urged media outlets to publish links to the documents so they can be accessed easily.

The three documents cover procedures for hand-recounting Maricopa County's ballots, collecting and handling digital evidence, and securing the county ballots and tabulation machines at the state fairgrounds.

The Arizona Democratic Party previously sued to block the recount unless the policies for securing voter rights were released.

The Democrats argued the public had a right to know how the recount of ballots in the state's most populous county was being conducted. Their lawyers argued that voter privacy would be irreparably harmed if the process proceeded, at least without knowing how the recount was being conducted.

The party's lawyers were reviewing the documents and could not immediately comment.

Also combing through documents is the Arizona secretary of state's office, which oversees state elections and has long sought more transparency in the Senate's unusual post-election recount. A spokeswoman said the office would comment once they had completed that analysis.

The secretary of state oversees the states' election rules, ballot handling and recount processes. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs also sought to send observers to the recount site and the Senate reached a deal Thursday on those observers, spokeswoman Murphy Hebert said.

The office sent an election equipment expert and two more elections experts from nonpartisan voting rights organizations were expected soon.

President Joe Biden narrowly won the state over Donald Trump. The audit of ballots months after Biden's win was certified came as backers of Trump continue to insist that he lost Arizona and other battleground states because of election fraud.

The state Senate audit can't overturn the results of the election, but Republicans who control the chamber say it is needed to restore voter confidence and help them craft changes to election laws.

Senate Democrats call the audit an effort to perpetuate what they call "The Big Lie" -- Trump's insistence that he actually won.

State law normally would not allow the recount, but the Senate won a court fight to access ballots and do its own review as part of its constitutional duty to write elections laws.

Separately on Thursday, a group of voting rights groups asked the U.S. Department of Justice to send monitors to Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix to ensure ballots are secure and that Senate auditors don't try to intimidate voters. The contract the Senate signed with Cyber Ninjas noted that voters may be contacted.

"We are very concerned that the auditors are engaged in ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws," said the letter sent by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Leadership Conference and Protect Democracy. The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, a Florida-based consultancy, talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, a Florida-based consultancy, talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as a Cyber Ninjas IT technician demonstrates a ballot scan during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as a Cyber Ninjas IT technician demonstrates a ballot scan during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
FILE - In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett speaks at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. A judge hearing a challenge to voter privacy policies during the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate's recount of 2.1 million 2020 election ballots says he is not convinced voter secrecy is being upheld. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett speaks at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. A judge hearing a challenge to voter privacy policies during the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate's recount of 2.1 million 2020 election ballots says he is not convinced voter secrecy is being upheld. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, right, talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan, left, a Florida-based consultancy, and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, right, talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Some of the 2.1 million ballots cast during the 2020 election, ready for recounting at a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Some of the 2.1 million ballots cast during the 2020 election, ready for recounting at a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix. The equipment used in the November election won by President Joe Biden and the 2.1 million ballots were moved to the site Thursday so Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed uncertainty that Biden's victory was legitimate can recount them and audit the results. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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