Judge has doubts on voter privacy in new Arizona recount

Associated Press
·2 min read

PHOENIX — A judge hearing a challenge to voter privacy policies during the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate’s recount of 2.1 million 2020 election ballots in the county that includes metro Phoenix said Tuesday he is not convinced voter secrecy is being upheld.

The comment from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin came at the end of a lengthy hearing where he also declined to extend a previous judge’s order that auditors hired by the Senate comply with state voter privacy laws — at least until he hears more at a hearing on Wednesday.

“I will share with you all, I am not yet persuaded that there has been a showing that the rights of the voters in Maricopa County are being protected,” Martin said. “And I think we will touch on this tomorrow when we address the policies and procedures and whether or not they can be withheld from public view.”

The Arizona Democratic Party and the lone Democrat on the GOP-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sued the state Senate and the contractor overseeing the election audit, Cyber Ninjas, Thursday. They want the recount of the 2020 presidential election won by President Joe Biden halted unless they get guarantees that voter privacy and ballot secrecy is ensured.

A judge who has since stepped aside from the contentious case on Friday ordered the recount halted if Democrats posted a $1 million bond, which the party declined to do. He also ordered the Senate and private election auditors to follow state law on voter and ballot secrecy and for Cyber Ninjas to produce its recount policies and procedures in court.

Cyber Ninjas is a Florida firm with no election experience run by Doug Logan, who has shared unfounded conspiracy theories claiming the official 2020 presidential election results are illegitimate. His attorney is seeking to have its policies and procedures for protecting voter privacy kept secret, arguing that they are trade secrets.

Martin plans to take testimony onthe company’s request to keep the material secret at a hearing Wednesday. He also said he plans to consider whether to again order the recount halted or renew the previous judge’s orders on ballot secrecy rules.

He started Tuesday’s hearing by rejecting the Senate lawyers’ arguments that they are not required to follow state elections law outlining how voters’ constitutional rights are protected.

“The Arizona Senate has the constitutional authority to conduct the audit as part of its legislative function,” Martin said. “However, the manner in which that audit is conducted must be balanced against the constitutional rights of the voters in Maricopa County, including the rights to secrecy and confidentiality of information.”