Arizona's secretary of state called the GOP-commissioned election audit 'prime for cooking the books'

Katie Hobbs Maricopa County audit
A composite image of Arizona's secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, and a scene from the 2020 election audit in Phoenix. CNN/Getty
  • The Arizona official Katie Hobbs is tracking irregularities with Maricopa County's election audit.

  • One concern is auditors were seen with dark-colored pens, which might be used to alter a ballot.

  • Hobbs told CNN on Thursday that the GOP-commissioned audit was "prime for cooking the books."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Arizona's secretary of state, Katie Hobbs, has once again slammed the Republican-led audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, suggesting that it is "prime for cooking the books."

Joe Biden won Arizona by a narrow margin, and numerous Republican legal challenges to the result failed or were dismissed outright.

Nonetheless, a review of the results in Maricopa County - which includes Phoenix and is the nation's second-largest voting jurisdiction - was launched thanks to the state's Republican-controlled Senate, which hired a little-known Florida tech company called Cyber Ninjas to carry out the audit.

Cyber Ninjas has never carried out an election audit before, and Hobbs' office has documented irregularities in its operation, including the fact that workers were found with black and blue pens, which can be used to alter ballots.

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Hobbs, a Democrat who announced this week that she was running for Arizona governor, told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday that Cyber Ninjas was "creating an atmosphere that is prime for cooking the books so that they can produce the result that they want to produce."

She said that Cyber Ninjas was informed from the start that dark pens were not allowed in the auditing process but that it'd "continued to be an issue throughout this entire exercise."

"We have repeatedly said, anyone who knows what they're doing around elections does not want to have a device that can mark a ballot in any way, that can potentially alter that ballot, and they're continuing to ignore that and continuing to do this," Hobbs said.

In a previous interview with Insider's Grace Panetta in May, Hobbs said the "so-called audit" was "making a mockery of everything we do to conduct fair, secure, and accurate elections."

Insider has contacted Cyber Ninjas and the Arizona Senate Republican Party for comment.

Jen Fifield, a reporter with The Arizona Republic, noticed blue pens being used back in April, when she raised the issue with Cyber Ninjas.

Fifield told CNN in a separate interview Thursday that a member of the group had told her the group would start using green pens instead.

Fifield was asked in the CNN interview whether she thought workers' using blue pens struck her as a "big deal."

"It strikes me as showing that they may not have experience doing election audits before," Fifield said.

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