The latest development in the partisan Republican "audit" of Arizona
involves the transportation of voting
system data to a secret hideout in Montana
outlets reported that an unsupervised driver drove copies of ballot data to a cabin in the northwest Montana town of Bigfork.
“He did not specify what security
measures were in place, or what the lab in Montana will do with the data, or how long it will be in possession of the copie,” an observer wrote earlier this month on an “SOS” website set up by the office
of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs
Hobbs, who is running for governor
, called the Montana operation “madness,” claiming that audit organizers promised a “transparent” operation with cameras, but “there was no camera in a cabin in Montana.”
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Hobbs told CNN
, referring to the operation as a “fraudit.” “If it wasn’t happening right in front of our eyes, we wouldn’t believe it was happening,” he added. (Watch
the video above.)
The Arizona Republic's Jen Fifield discovered that the cabin now holding the records is the home of Ben Cotton, founder of the digital company CyFIR, which is a subcontractor of the company running the recount
; CyFIR's parent company, Cyber Technologies, also run by Cotton, appears to have the same address in the Montana woods that CNN tracked down this week.
I am deeply concerned that the Cyber Ninjas
have moved Maricopa County
election data to a residence in Montana – over 1,300 miles away from Phoenix – for no discernible reason. This #fraudit madness must end. https://t.co/3Ncqsjkph0
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) June 17, 2021
The audit of 2.1 million votes in Maricopa County was ordered by state Senate Republicans
and only involves races won by Democrats
. The partisan review by the Cyber Ninjas company, which has no experience with elections
, is led by conspiracy
theorist Doug Logan, a promoter of the "Big Lie
" that the election was rigged.
In one off-the-rails operation, Cyber Ninjas operatives are looking for evidence of bamboo fibers in ballots as proof that China
interfered with the election; one of the auditors appears on the ballots he's reviewing as both a failed GOP
candidate and a Trump
Election officials have warned that a large number of the unsecured ballots have already been altered or destroyed, rendering them completely untrustworthy — and that voting machines have been tampered with, rendering them unusable for future elections.
“At this point in the audit, nothing really surprises me,” Fifield said, according to Montana NBC
affiliate KGVO-TV. “The Senate has never told us the full list of contractors involved and the names of the people
. It’s been like a puzzle trying to piece everything together.”
Cotton runs the “powerful lab,” according to State Senate liaison Ken Bennett, who said the transported data was downloaded from the hard drives used in the election by Maricopa County. It may or may not include voter registration data, and some of it may be sensitive, Bennett added.
According to Fifield, technology experts have warned of the dangers of “unrestricted access” to data in Montana that could contain private information about voters
Cotton refused to discuss the data with KGVO because he had signed a nondisclosure agreement, according to Cotton.
The Arizona vote was certified more than six months ago by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey after several recounts found no irregularities. Joe Biden
defeated Trump by 10,457 votes in the state. Biden defeated Trump by more than 2 percentage points, or about 45,000 votes, in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.
Trump has told guests at his Florida
, that he believes votes unearthed for him by the Cyber Ninjas could be his ticket back to the White House