May 24, 2021 - Politics
Sarasota cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas faces scrutiny over Arizona 2020 audit
Cyber Ninjas contractors, hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election in Phoenix. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

A Sarasota cybersecurity firm is at the center of a controversy surrounding an audit of the 2020 presidential election vote in Maricopa County, Arizona.

What's happening: Instead of selecting tried-and-true vote-counting experts, the Arizona state Senate went with Cyber Ninjas, a firm that didn't formally bid for the contract and had no experience with election audits, the AP reports.

How it happened: Senate President Karen Fann told the AP she can’t recall how she found the firm, but critics point to tweets by Cyber Ninjas’ CFO supporting conspiracy theories that former President Trump won Maricopa County and Arizona.

Why it matters: Critics are concerned Cyber Ninjas is testing conspiracy theories instead of just recounting votes.

  • One of those strategies, the AP reports, is checking for bamboo fibers to test a theory about fake ballots shipped from Asia.
  • "A onetime treasure hunter who claims to have invented a new method to automatically spot ballot fraud says his technology is being used in the review," reporter Nicholas Riccard writes.
  • The Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors called the firm "grifters."
"If I give you 20 M&Ms, and you want 30, you can keep counting it, but you did not get 30 M&Ms. This is not an effort to find the truth."
— Former Department of Justice voting rights attorney and elections expert David Becker to the AP
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