Democratic and Republican officials in Arizona laid out reasons the GOP election audit can't be trusted in preemptive attacks before the report's release

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Arizona
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election in Phoenix, Arizona. Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post
  • The results of the audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election is set to be released next week.

  • Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, slammed the audit in a Thursday reported.

  • A GOP county official also criticized the audit, saying it was secretive and shambolic.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties have launched blistering attacks on the highly partisan audit of 2020 presidential election votes ahead of the expected release of its results next week.

The audit of last year's vote in Maricopa County was launched in April at the request of the GOP-controlled Arizona state Senate, and is being conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a contractor whose founder has expressed support for former President Donald Trump's false claims that the election was stolen from him. President Joe Biden won both Maricopa County and Arizona.

The contractor's report on the audit is scheduled for release before the end of August.

In a Thursday statement, the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, reiterated its criticisms of the audit, saying: "This exercise is more accurately described as a partisan review of the 2020 General Election ballots in Maricopa County, the results of which are invalid and unreliable."

The report went on to describe a series of problems that observers from the office had witnessed, including a lack of security, transparency, and measures to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Stephen Richer, the county recorder in Maricopa County and a Republican, also released his own report Thursday, addressing party colleagues in the state senate.

He laid out in detail the failings of the audit, saying it was an "abomination that has so far eroded election confidence and defamed good people."

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann has claimed that the Cyber Ninja audit was necessary to restore faith in elections. Maricopa County's ballots are the focus of the audit because it is Arizona's most populous county, and winning it is typically key to claiming overall victory in the state.

In the letter, Richer noted that two prior audits of the ballot count last year matched the declared result of the election in the county by 100% - and no evidence has emerged to substantiate concerns the election may have been tainted by fraud.

He was also scathing about the election-fraud conspiracy theories pushed by Trump and other senior members of his party.

Observers of the Cyber Ninjas audit have said that, at times, the auditors appeared to be attempting to substantiating conspiracy theories, including looking for traces of bamboo on ballots on the basis of the groundless claim that they were sent from China as part of a foreign plot to hijack the vote.

"I'm embarrassed listening to my party concoct the most outlandish theories (Chinese ballots!) to avoid accepting the reality: we lost the top two races in Arizona," Richer wrote.

The audit was supposed to wrap up after a few weeks, but had extended for several months.

Trump and his allies have seized on the audit as part of their bid to undermine trust in the validity of last year's election, with the former president calling for officials in other states he lost to launch similar recounts.

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