The Circus Has Come To Arizona

[ Posted Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 – 14:53 UTC ]

The circus has come to town! Step right up folks, because Arizona is currently hosting an absolute three-ring extravaganza. The Republicans who control the state senate decided the best way to get on Donald Trump's good side would be to chase down the rabbit hole of: "Maybe if we look at the ballots again, we'll find all that non-existent fraud Trump keeps telling us is there!" So even though the ballots in Maricopa County (the lion's share of the statewide vote totals) have already been audited twice, the state senate voted to conduct their own personal "audit" of the ballots. That word is in quotes to signify that this isn't a real and authentic audit, it is instead nothing short of a circus.

This isn't even my own personal hyperbole. Here is what the Maricopa Country Board of Supervisors just wrote, in a letter to the Republican leader of the state senate: "Your 'audit,' which you once said was intended to increase voters' confidence in our electoral process, has devolved into a circus." And that's not even the snarkiest thing they had to say. Four out of the five supervisors who signed this scathing letter are Republicans, mind you, so this cannot be cast as any sort of partisan name-calling.

Being a political blogger, I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of snark, over the years. And this is some Grade-A prime free-range snark to appreciate, I have to admit. I was impressed, and it takes a lot to impress me in this regard (to put it another way). In fact, I am just going to excerpt their letter (you can find a full PDF version of it on their official website) for the entire rest of this column, since I find that there's just no way I can possibly improve upon such choice and exquisite snark.

The letter was provoked by a letter from President of the Arizona Senate Karen Fann, which was full of the usual sort of unhinged conspiracy-theory-laden nonsense that we've been hearing ever since last November. The supervisors were not amused by this, and they let Fann know it from the get-go:

We write in response to your May 12, 2021 letter. We also write in response to the May 12th social media post from the Twitter account, run by you or your designee/s, which accused Maricopa County of "deleting a directory full of databases from the 2020 election cycle days before the election equipment was delivered to the audit," and went on to accuse the County of "spoliation of evidence."

These accusations are false, defamatory, and beneath the dignity of the Senate. They are an insult to the dedicated public servants in the Maricopa County Elections Department and Office of the Recorder, who work incredibly long hours conducting the County's elections with integrity and honor.

Their tone of being seriously offended, absolutely insulted, and downright angry at the accusations persists throughout the letter. It is divided into six parts, each of which refutes part of the original letter. The first is titled: "Your accusation, that Maricopa County deleted data, is false."

We demand that you immediately rescind your false and malicious tweet asserting that Maricopa County "spoiled evidence" in the days before we provided the server to the Senate. Your tweet, which relies on the "modified date" shown in the screenshot as evidence of wrongdoing, is demonstrably false; the only thing it does demonstrate is your auditors' incompetence. Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County.

That the Senate would launch such a grave accusation via Twitter not only before waiting for an answer to your questions, but also before your so called "audit" demonstrates to the world that the Arizona Senate is not acting in good faith, has no intention of learning anything about the November 2020 General Election, but is only interested in feeding the various festering conspiracy theories that fuel the fundraising schemes of those pulling your strings. You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona State Senate to grifters and con-artists, who are fundraising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the Coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they call "kinematic artifacts" while shining purple lights for effect. None of these things are done in a serious audit. The result is that the Arizona Senate is held up to ridicule in every corner of the globe and our democracy is imperiled.

. . .

There could be other explanations as well, including the possibility that your "auditors" inadvertently, or purposefully, moved -- or even deleted -- certain data.

Regardless, the failure of your so called "auditors" to locate data files on the copy they made of the County's server speaks more to their ineptitude than it does to the integrity and actions of our dedicated public employees who effectively and accurately run the elections in the fourth largest county in the United States.

The second section takes the list of questions asked in the original letter, and answers them, one by one. These are all technical and detailed, for the most part, but are also sprinkled with snarky little asides like the following:

We are stunned that you are asking us this question. It demonstrates a spectacular lack of understanding on your part of what occurred during the County's transfer of its material to your custody.

. . .

It is obvious your "audit" of the ballots is moving at a slower pace than you planned. Our organization of the ballots in the boxes -- an organization that complies with the laws that the Senate helped write -- is no excuse for why you are some 1.5 million ballots behind schedule in your "recount", as your letter comically insinuates.

. . .

Because it is obvious that your contractors have no understanding of these matters, a brief tutorial is in order:

The knockout punch -- possibly the snarkiest thing in the entire letter (which is saying a lot, as you can tell) -- came in an answer about demands that the county turn over certain passwords (the first sentence references the earlier two authentic audits that had already been performed):

The forensic audit firms that the County hired, Pro V & V and SLI Compliance, are both accredited by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission as voting system testing laboratories. Because of that accredited status, signifying that these firms are specialists who have expertise with voting systems and understand how to audit them, Dominion Voting Systems provides Pro V & V and SLI Compliance with the necessary passwords to audit their machines.

Your chosen "auditors," the Cyber Ninjas, are certainly many things. But "accredited by the EAC" is not one of them. Regardless, we cannot give you a password that we do not possess any more than we can give you the formula for Coca Cola. We do not have it; we have no legal right to acquire it; and so, we cannot give it to you.

The last question was about passwords for the county's routers, which the supervisors patiently explain why they cannot turn these over (to a bunch of clowns), before finishing by invoking a revered Republican (just for good measure, one assumes):

There is more we could say to explain why we do not believe it prudent to blindly trust your contractors, but we believe that example is enough. President Reagan famously said, "Trust, but verify." The requisite verification is not present here. Accordingly, we will not endanger the safety and security of our citizens, our law enforcement, our state, and our nation by providing you and your "auditors" access to our routers.

Towards the end, the snark starts arriving fast and thick:

We will not attend your meeting on May 18, 2021.

In your letter, you invite us to attend a meeting at the Arizona State Capitol on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at 1:00 p.m., and you request that we bring Election Department officials who would have knowledge of our elections procedures. We will not be attending. We will not be responding to any additional inquiries from your "auditors". Their failure to understand basic election processes is an indication you didn't get the best people to perform in your political theatre. We have wasted enough County resources. People's tax dollars are real, your "auditors" are not.

And I have to paste the entire final item in the list (the very end of the letter itself) in, since it is such a masterpiece of political snark that it left me in awe:

Your "audit" is harming all of us, and we ask you to end it.

Finally, we express our united view that your "audit", no matter what your intentions were in the beginning, has become a spectacle that is harming all of us. Our state has become a laughingstock. Worse, this "audit" is encouraging our citizens to distrust elections, which weakens our democratic republic.

Your "auditors" began the "audit" unaware that using blue pens on ballots could harm them, and apparently would have distributed blue pens to those conducting the recount of ballots had a reporter not informed them. It has gone downhill from there. Your "audit," which you once said was intended to increase voters' confidence in our electoral process, has devolved into a circus.

You are using purple lights and spinning tables. You are hunting for bamboo. These are not things that serious auditors of elections do.

You are photographing ballots contrary to the laws that the Senate helped enact, and you are sending those images to unidentified places and people. You have repeatedly lost control of your [T]witter account, which has tweeted things that appear to be the rantings of a petulant child -- not the serious statements of a serious audit.

None of this is inspiring confidence. None of this will cause our citizens to trust elections. In fact, it is having the opposite result. You certainly must recognize that things are not going well at the Coliseum. You also must know that the County's election was free and fair, and that our Elections Department did an outstanding job conducting it.

Unfortunately, this has become a partisan issue, and it should not be one. It is time to make a choice to defend the Constitution and the Republic. As County elected officials, we come from different political parties, but we stand united together to defend the Constitution and the Republic in our opposition to the Big Lie. We ask everyone to join us in standing for the truth. The November 3, 2020 general election was free and fair and conducted by the Elections Department with integrity and honor.

Regardless of your intentions when you decided to subpoena our equipment and ballots, this cannot really be what you envisioned. You, Senate President Fann, are the only one with the power to immediately end it. We implore you to recognize the obvious truth: your "auditors" are in way over their heads. They do not have the experience necessary to conduct an audit of an election. They do not know the laws, nor the procedures, nor the best practices. It is inevitable that they will arrive at questionable conclusions.

It is time to end this. For the good of the Senate, for the good of the Country and for the good of the Democratic institutions that define us as Americans.

Unfortunately, the senate Republicans did not take the supervisors' wise advice and will indeed be moving forward with their "audit." Instead, yesterday they held the meeting they had called (without the supervisors in attendance) and had to sheepishly walk back at least one of those unhinged accusations:

Firms hired to run a partisan audit of the 2020 election for Senate Republicans in Arizona said Tuesday that data was not destroyed, reversing earlier allegations that election officials in the state's most populated county eliminated evidence.

The claim of deleted databases was amplified by former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who believe conspiracy theories about election irregularities.

Ben Cotton, founder of a computer forensics firm working on the audit, told key senators that he had recovered all data. The revelation came a day after Maricopa County officials released a scathing letter saying the auditors couldn't find the data because they didn't know where to look.

"I have the information I need from the recovery efforts of the data," said Cotton, founder of CyFIR LLC.

In other words, they were either lying or just flat-out incompetent. My guess would be the latter, but with these clowns, who really knows? After all, the circus has come to town.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


13 Comments on “The Circus Has Come To Arizona”

  1. [1] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The only items lacking from the Maricopa County snark were tar, feathers and rails.

  2. [2] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    I like to see this, but it's tough. With the loss of house seats for Democrats last election and with reapportionment, gerrymandering and vote suppression I think the Republicans really have the advantage in retaking the house in 2022. Hopefully between Biden's popularity and Republican infighting that can be thwarted but it's going to be a near run thing.

    Whereas it's really looking good to gain seats in the Senate with 11 Democratic controlled seats and 22 Republican controlled seats up this cycle. But the Republicans came out to vote last time and will do so again this cycle. Democrats are going to have to fight as hard in 2022 as they did to defeat Trump if they want to continue to control both houses of congress.

  3. [3] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    "None of this is inspiring confidence. None of this will cause our citizens to trust elections. In fact, it is having the opposite result."

    The snark level is indeed world-class, especially in the context of an inter-governmental memo. But the above quote, it seems to me, captures the whole point of the audit, as it does the Big Lie of which the audit is a part.

    The Republicans under Trump are working to convince their people, if no one else, that no election that doesn't result in a Trump victory can possibly be an honest one. In short, in Trumpland, American elections have only one purpose: to elect Trump, and his supporters. Any election that does not have that result is by definition a stolen, fraudulent, and invalid one.

    So these snarky officials no doubt already know what's going to happen, even as they go on record to protest it. When the 'audit' reports this June that Trump won Arizona by, say 11,780 votes, it will become part of the Big Lie in a meta-Lie kind of way. That is, it will be endlessly brandished to the 40% of the country who are Trumpists to prove that the "stolen election of 2020" is not a "Lie" at all, but audited Truth!

    And all the snark in the world will never, never penetrate that bamboo-and-ultraviolet fortified bubble.

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

    The Republikillers saw how effective Russiagate was for Deathocrats in mobilizing their base so they came up with "Bewitched" to try and imitate "I Dream of Genie" or "The Munsters" to imitate "The Addams Family".

    If we want to be "Survivors" we need to vote both corrupt circus sideshow performing parties off the island.

  5. [5] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I can’t find any background information about the technical qualifications of the Cyber Ninja CEO. There is a corporate website...but it’s as fuzzy as a Cold War doctored passport photo. There is a purported photo of the CEO...who looks to be about 25 yrs old. He is a Christian...but cyber security not theology. What is his education? What is hi work experience. Cyber Ninjas reek of Republican Dirty Tricks. Follow the money.

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:


    A hacker who covers his/her tracks well.

    The Florida outfit CEO talks about "ethical hacking" - using your hacking skills to find vulnerabilities in a client's websites...for a fee mind you. There is a strong potential for a marketing scheme that is vanishingly close to extortion. As in: "Nice little web business you have here. Pity if some hacker should shut it down. brother was clumsy."

    I think this story is likely to have legs.

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i hear there are quite a few excellent hackers in russia...

  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:


    *laughs* :)

  10. [10] 
    Kick wrote:


    i hear there are quite a few excellent hackers in russia...

    GRU, Russian military intelligence


    Just to name a few.

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Well well...this Maricopa Caper doesn’t just have’s sprinting. All the voting machines in the hands of the Ninjas are compromised and must be replaced to insure election integrity.

    Has the Ninja skipped town yet?

  12. [12] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

    Opinions are like assholes.

    The Republikillers saw how effective Russiagate was for Deathocrats in mobilizing their base so they came up with "Bewitched" to try and imitate "I Dream of Genie" or "The Munsters" to imitate "The Addams Family".

    False equivalency... again. Also, the great motivator in the 2020 election was Trump himself and his lousy performance at his job.

    Your perpetual imitation of a terminal ignorant fool is most sincerely not the least bit flattering to you.

    Nobody came up with "Bewitched" to try to imitate "I Dream of Genie" since it was fantasy television that was already in existence before "Genie." "The Munsters" also wasn't created to imitate "The Addams Family" because the two shows debuted on television within a few days of each other, and the Addams are a fictional family of humans while the Munsters are a family of (mostly) not humans patterned after Frankenstein's monster, Dracula (and his daughter), and the Wolf Man. They did inadvertently "imitate" each other by both debuting in 1964, both being filmed in black-and-white, both going off the air in 1966 after airing for only two seasons, and both going into wide syndication thereafter.

    Your fake/false "facts" and comparing of apples and oranges is again duly noted. No one is surprised that your repetitive trouble with reality also extends into fantasy. You just invent mountains and mountains of bullshit with your repetitive drivel and spew.

    If we want to be "Survivors" we need to vote both corrupt circus sideshow performing parties off the island.

    So you'd prefer autocracy? Because only one party "survives" in that "reality" television show, and no one is surprised that you didn't think that through either. However, I do like your idea of voting off the "sideshow performing parties" because in the reality of Weigantia, that would most definitely be the fantastical tilting at windmills sideshow performing troll known as Don Harris. :)

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:


    Well well...this Maricopa Caper doesn’t just have’s sprinting. All the voting machines in the hands of the Ninjas are compromised and must be replaced to insure election integrity.

    That'll be costly. Do what Dominion did and hold the ninja Trump cult trash accountable in a court of law and sue them for their libel, slander, and damage to property. Make it hurt.

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