Montana Viewpoint: The Federal Bureau of Cyber Ninjas

Jim Elliott

A few months back the Republican controlled Arizona State Senate ordered a recount of all 2.1 million votes cast for president and senate in Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix.

The recount will not be conducted by public employees who work for the taxpayer, but by private contractors who have been given access to all election information, something that I believe has never been done before.

In March Senate President Karen Fann signed an agreement with a Florida firm called Cyber Ninjas to oversee the operation. The operation does not seem to be well received:

“It makes us look like idiots,” said Republican State Senator Paul Boyer, who originally voted in support of the project.

“The contractors hired by the Senate President are not auditors and they are not certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission… It’s clearer by the day: the people hired by the Senate are in way over their heads. This is not funny; this is dangerous.” Said Steve Sellers, Republican Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

“This is unhinged,” said Republican Steve Richter, Maricopa County Elections Supervisor about claims of data destruction by his office.

And that’s just what Republicans are saying.

It has been called an “audit”, which it is not. What it is a predetermined conclusion in search of a methodology, the conclusion being that the balloting for President in Maricopa County was mishandled and that that will be shown once they have figured out a believable way to show it.

This is commonly referred to as “the cart before the horse”. The process has been harshly criticized by the Maricopa Board of Supervisors (four Republicans and a Democrat) which voted to ask the Senate President to halt the project.

This is being conducted like a circus sideshow without the planning that even a sideshow has to have. For instance, the entire recount operation has been suspended for a week or so because high school graduations were scheduled to be held in the same arena as the recount.

A court has nixed the Ninjas attempts to visit voters in their homes to have them confirm what their ballot shows, a frightening invasion of privacy. You can read all about the incompetence for yourselves, but the incompetence is only the sideshow, the main event is the purposeful erosion of trust in government institutions.

The Arizona election has already been certified, but this has not satisfied the Arizona Senate, primarily, I suppose, because nothing suspicious was found, so the Senate voted to remove the oversight from the taxpayers’ representatives and hand it over to a private firm for $150,000 of those taxpayers’ money. The rest of the funding is from private sources, some of which do not have to reveal the contributors.

The purpose is not to seek truth, the purpose is to cast doubt, and to cast doubt all they have to do is claim that something is amiss, as they did in falsely claiming that the elections bureau deleted the voter database.

The thinking is that whatever is wrong—if anything is—it was not discovered by the government review, despite the fact that those reviewing it were all Republican. If this were just people from the public voicing their concerns it would be one thing, but this has the blessing of the government, the Arizona State Senate, and that makes it look much more legitimate, which it is not.

There are two institutions in America which have served our country well, our government is one, the free press another. If you erode confidence in the honest work that governments do for the American people you create a path for anarchy where no government is trusted. If you erode confidence in the integrity of the American press, you pave the way for unscrupulous people to dictate their version of the truth.

It’s not a good thing for America.

Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek.