Wednesday, May 5, 2021

BREAKING: Settlement Agreement Reached In AZ Democrats' Lawsuit Against State Senate/Cyber Ninjas Audit/Recount (READ Agreement)

The State Senate and Cyber Ninjas have agreed to settle the lawsuit filed against their audit/recount by the Arizona Democratic Party and one Maricopa County Supervisor. In the agreement (below), they agree that (1) the Cyber Ninjas will not compare early ballot envelope signatures with those in the voter registration files; (2) that they will allow news reporters freer access to the recount presently taking place at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum; (3) will continue to allow the Secretary of State to send observers to the recount; and (4) continue to abide by all of the policies and procedures which they submitted to the court last week.

The parties also agreed to procedures to follow in case either side believes the other is breaching the agreements. Along those lines, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs delivered a 6-page letter this afternoon detailing 13 concerns which must be addressed within the 48 hours specified in the settlement. The letter was addressed to Ken Bennett, a former Secretary of State who is now acting as the State Senate's liaison to the Cyber Ninjas.

Those concerns include a "partial list of incidents" compiled by the Secretary's observers on April 30 and May 1: 

--ballots left on tables unattended

--scrap paper tally sheets

--table leads "correcting" counters' tally sheets 

--assts "intermixing ballots from separate stacks" 

--counters conferring on how to tally a vote

--more

The audit/recount twitter account - formerly controlled by Bennett but now apparently operated by committee - has lashed out at Hobbs' letter, saying "AZ @SecretaryHobbs continues to make baseless claimes about this forensic audit but has never led an election audit in her entire career."

The suit was filed  by the Democrats on April 22, the day before the recount portion of the audit was set to begin. The case was marked by a chaotic initial hearing at which the judge proposed a temporary pause conditioned on the Democrats posting a $1M bond. After the audit continued, the judge recused himself upon discovering that one of the Cyber Ninjas' attorneys used to extern for him. 

The Cyber Ninjas then (unsuccessfully) tried to delay the hearing in front of the new judge by firing those attorneys the night before. The judge refused to stop the recount but also refused to allow the Cyber Ninjas to secretly file their policies and procedures. The parties agreed that the security plan for the site could remain confidential, but the Cyber Ninjas had not properly filed it and it was temporarily publicly released by the court.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs intervened into the action, and issued a statement about today's settlement. Nonetheless, she uses the present tense while saying that her "concerns about this ongoing exercise increase every day."

 (This is a developing story. Please check back for more details.)

 "AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet. 

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