It was reported today that the U.S. Department of Justice is asking Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann (R) to explain what steps she’s taking to make sure the election audit she ordered doesn’t violate federal laws prohibiting voter intimidation and requiring ballots be preserved.
Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division sent a letter to Fann that said the department had two major concerns with the audit.
AZ State Senator Wendy Rogers (R) tweeted an article reporting on the situation and issued a stern warning to the DOJ advising them not to interfere in the audit.
“‘Justice’ Department – you need to stay in your lane. Do not touch Arizona ballots or machines unless you want to spend time in an Arizona prison,” Rogers said in the tweet.
'Justice' Department – you need to stay in your lane. Do not touch Arizona ballots or machines unless you want to spend time in an Arizona prison.https://t.co/W7l3WhFsjt— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) May 6, 2021
In the letter, Karlan asked Fann to respond to her concerns and to explain what steps the Senate is taking to ensure the audit doesn’t violate federal laws and Fann said that the Senate’s attorney is preparing a response for DOJ.
From the AZ Mirror:
First, Karlan said federal law requires state and local election officials to safeguard and preserve election records. She expressed concern that Maricopa County election officials are no longer in control of ballots, election systems and other materials.
If the Senate designates someone else to serve as a custodian for election records, which must be maintained for 22 months, the Civil Rights Act of 1960 requires “administrative procedures be in place giving election officers ultimate management authority over the retention and security of those election records, including the right to physically access” them, Karlan wrote.
“We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and are at risk of damage or loss,” Karlan said in her letter.
Maricopa County officials wouldn’t allow the Senate to conduct its audit at county facilities, and have refused to participate in any way. The audit is being overseen by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity company with no experience in elections.
The other concern cited in the letter involved possible violations of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The statement of work for Cyber Ninjas called for the audit to “identify voter registrations that did not make sense” and knock on voters’ doors to confirm their registration information, as well as plans to conduct an audit of voting history in at least three precincts “with a high number of anomalies.” Those plans would require audit workers to visit the homes of voters to determine whether they voted in the 2020 general election.
Karlan said that raises concerns that audit workers might engage in voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
“Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act. Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future,” Karlan wrote.
National File reported earlier the Arizona Democrats have reached a settlement in the lawsuit that they filed with the firm involved in the audit and the Senate Republicans that will see the firm, Cyber Ninjas, cease verifying the signatures on early voting envelopes with the signatures on file from the voter.
From National File:
According to the settlement, Cyber Ninjas “and their agents will not compare signatures on early ballot envelopes with signatures from the voter registration file and the Senate defendants warrant and represent that they are not currently comparing signatures on early ballot envelopes with signatures from the voter registration file, and will notify Plaintiffs within 48hours of any decision to undertake such signature comparison and afford Plaintiffs 48 hours to respond to resolve any concerns.”
“If the parties cannot resolve the issue in a mutually agreeable manner, Plaintiffs may seek emergency injunctive and/or declaratory relief in court to seek compliance with the law.”
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