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Pierce writes: "Arizona's 'Cyber Ninjas' are the first of many."

A contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, transports ballots from the 2020 general election at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)
A contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, transports ballots from the 2020 general election at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

There's Money to Be Made in the Democracy Destruction Business

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

24 May 21

Arizona's 'Cyber Ninjas' are the first of many.

rizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is not playing. From the Arizona Republic:

The county broke the chain of custody, or the procedures for properly securing and tracking the machines, when it was required to give the machines to the state Senate under subpoenas, Hobbs wrote in a May 20 letter to the county's Board of Supervisors, Recorder and Elections Department director.

Hobbs said she consulted with officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who said the machines shouldn't be used again because there is no way to fully determine whether the machines were tampered with while out of the county's custody.

Hobbs wrote that if the county tries to use the machines again, even if it performs a full analysis in an attempt to determine whether the machines were still safe to use, her office would "consider decertification proceedings." In Arizona, voting systems must be certified to be used in elections.

For a secretary of state, this is the equivalent of cranking up the ol’ B-52. This is the hardest hardball that can be played. Hobbs is putting the entire onus of the ongoing farce in Arizona, including the eventual cost to the state’s taxpayers of buying new voting machines, squarely on the bamboo-sniffers conducting the burlesque “audit,” and the Arizona Senate that authorized it. She’s using the Department of Homeland Security to help her do it.

County officials turned over the voting machines, as well as nearly 2.1 million ballots and voter information from the Nov. 3 election, after a judge ruled the subpoenas issued by Senate Republican leaders for the items were valid. The state Senate then provided the items to private contractors, headed by Florida-based cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas, to complete a recount and other analysis.

“Other analysis” is doing a huge amount of work there. (So, for that matter, is the phrase, “cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas.”) And Hobbs is looking askance at the work being done.

Hobbs said her office consulted with election technology and security experts, including at the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who agreed "no comprehensive methods exist to fully rehabilitate the compromised equipment or provide adequate assurance that they remain safe to use.”

And the most significant element of this brawl is that the Maricopa County supervisors, who have less use for the state senate than most of us have for prickly heat, are onboard with the bare-knuckle campaign waged by Hobbs.

County supervisors warned months ago, when they were fighting the Senate's subpoenas in court, that handing over its voting machines might cause Hobbs' office to decertify the machines. The lawsuit filed by the supervisors on Dec. 18 argued that "a forensic audit conducted by a technician that is not certified by the EAC could void the certification and could cause the secretary of state to de-certify the equipment.”

"Were the secretary of state to de-certify Maricopa County’s election equipment, the ability of Maricopa County to conduct a free and fair, safe and secure, election would be substantially undermined if not compromised altogether and, thus the County will suffer irreparable harm," the court filing says.

And now, that prediction has been validated by Hobbs’s action. The senate—and the Cyber Ninjas—are on an atoll that’s being swallowed by the sea, but nowhere near fast enough. From the Washington Post:

The ramifications of Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country: In emails, phone calls and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count — wrongly insisting that Trump won the presidential race…Behind the scenes, a loose network of lawyers, self-styled election experts and political groups is bolstering community efforts by demanding audits, filing lawsuits and pushing unsubstantiated claims that residents are echoing in public meetings. Much of it is playing out in largely Republican communities, where Trump supporters hope to find officials willing to support their inquiries.

Once you’ve committed yourself to making bank off the destruction of democracy, it’s tough to go back to work at the bait shop. your social media marketing partner
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