Trump ninjas don't know what ink color to use on ballots. And they're auditing our election?

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Opinion: Arizona’s farce of an election audit gets underway this morning and already it’s clear that these people don’t know what they are doing.

The already infamous Arizona Senate audit kicks off today, as Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots and its voting machines now are in the eager hands of Trump ninjas.

That is, unless a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has the good sense to hit the pause button.

During a press conference on Thursday, reporters weren’t allowed to ask the head auditor, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, about his previous tweets promoting the Stop the Steal movement.

That, apparently, is irrelevant.

“We’re not here to audit Mr. Logan’s opinions about anything,” Senate liaison Ken Bennett chided reporters.

Officials aren’t even there for the audit

Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state, is the Senate’s liaison to the audit but he’s not calling the shots. In fact, no state or county official is calling the shots or even present at Veterans Memorial Coliseum (which, I suspect, is about to live up to its nickname, the Madhouse on McDowell).

The ballots have been turned over to a Florida company that has no experience in elections and whose CEO’s bias, we are told, is irrelevant.

Logan assures us his personal opinions won’t impact the audit. 

“It’s really, really important to us that we have integrity in the way we do this count and in the results that come out of it,” Logan told reporters. “And it’s really important to us that there’s full transparency in everything that we do.”

And yet, consider the many things Logan and the rest of the ninjas don’t want to talk about.

What safeguards are in place? Who knows?

Who, exactly, are the 150 people that will be counting the ballots? Logan says there will be three-person teams but he wouldn’t assure reporters that those teams each will be balanced to include a Republican, a Democrat and an independent. 

What assurances are there that the ballots and the multimillion-dollar tabulation machinery are secure? Several reporters found an unlocked door and strolled right onto the floor of the coliseum on Thursday evening.

Why is it that the only races being counted are the presidential and Senate races? Logan says it’s a function of time. But if widespread fraud is suspected, surely the inquiry should extend beyond the two races won by Democrats. Surely, the Senate Republicans who ordered this audit would want to ensure their own elections were valid.

Who will be verifying signatures of early voters?  What expertise do they have? 

What neighborhoods will be targeted for a canvass? Logan says his audit team has been working with “statisticians” who have identified “areas of concern.” But he won’t identify who these statisticians are, how they chose the neighborhoods or who may come knocking at your door to ask questions.

Watch the livestream? Everyone looks like ants

Will the source of the private money being raised by far-right One America News Network’s Christina Bobb and others to help pay for the audit be disclosed? Logan acknowledged he’s getting private funding but he wouldn’t agree to disclose who beyond the Senate is funding this official state audit.

Why aren’t nonprofits that specialize in elections procedures and processes allowed to observe how the ballots are being counted and how the machinery is being handled?

Why aren’t reporters allowed in?  

Bennett says there simply isn’t room for reporters.

No room inside the 14,870-seat arena for reporters with notebooks and cameras and the ability to inform Arizonans on how our ballots are being handled … .

Bennett says the public can watch the livestream feed, which is nice if you like to watch what looks like a bunch of ants running around on the arena floor. But it’s hardly a replacement for journalists there to report on an intense public process of intense public interest.

Other that OANN, of course. The network that has promoted conspiracy theories is allowed in. It is providing the livestream and who knows what other access that has been denied to the Arizona media.

Shouldn’t they know about blue ink?

Arizona Republic reporter Jen Fifield was among the first batch of official observers to the audit. During a break, she posted this Twitter update, which hardly inspires confidence.

“I noticed the counters had blue pens. Supposed to only have red when you’re around ballots since ballots can read black and blue ink. Those blue pens the counters have could potentially be used to mark the ballots. I pointed this out to Doug Logan with Cyber Ninjas.

“Doug is running this audit. He told me that his understanding was that blue ink was fine – that the ballots only read black ink. Then he came back and said actually it seems I am correct. But he still seemed unsure. He said that they would work on this.”

Blue pens are a distinct no-no, as any real elections expert knows, because the tabulation machinery will read them, though it would be a great way to sabotage ballots.

Fifield also reports she was banned from providing any further updates until her shift is over. 

Trump ninjas shold be nowhere near our ballots

The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo filed a lawsuit on Thursday to try to stop the audit. They contend state laws are being trampled as ballots and voting machines are put into the hands of untrained private auditors with no real safeguards to ensure are protected.

Trump supporters, meanwhile, are ecstatic.

“The audit is going to be huge,” writes Greg, who, like one of hundreds of Republicans  who are writing me, has absolute faith that this “independent” audit conducted by Trump supporters will reveal the truth.

“If you’re so confident this election was ethical and Joe Biden won, why are you opposed to a transparent forensic audit?” writes Jon.

“This is the most transparent audit in the history of audits …,” declared Mark. “You shouldn’t be content with the results of an election where nearly half of the population doesn’t believe them.  It is in everyone’s interest that all Americans have faith in our election process.”

Precisely. It is in everyone’s interest that all Americans have faith in our elections.

Which is why Trump’s ninjas have no business anywhere near our ballots.

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.

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