New Arizona audit review shows Cyber Ninjas didn't count 312K ballots, double counted 23K
The hand count in Maricopa County was off by hundreds of thousands of ballots, according to a review of newly released Arizona audit records.
Election analysts say Cyber Ninjas' count was off by about 312,000 and it also double counted almost 23,000 ballots in its months-long review of 2020 election results.
The numbers represent the latest challenge to the Arizona Senate's audit, which was led by Cyber Ninjas, involved more than a thousand volunteers and cost millions of dollars.
A 695-page report, produced by former Arizona GOP chair and audit spokesperson Randy Pullen, was supposed to provide a snapshot of all the counts of the 2.1 million ballots cast in the county's general election. The Arizona Senate released the report late Friday after The Arizona Republic filed a request under the state's Public Records Law.
But Cyber Ninjas didn't tally as many as 167,000 Maricopa County ballots, according to analysts who reviewed the report for The Republic.
The hand-count numbers in the report reflect a 15% error rate when compared with a separate machine count of ballots authorized by the Arizona Senate, they said.
"This is proof that the Cyber Ninjas' vote count wasn't real," said Larry Moore, co-founder of the Boston-based Clear Ballot Group. "It means they lost control of their ballots."
Moore is part of a three-person team known as the Audit Guys. It also includes Benny White, a prominent Pima County Republican data analyst, and Tim Halvorsen, Clear Ballot's retired chief technology officer.
Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan did not respond to requests for comment Monday. But in an Oct. 6 statement, he refuted claims that the hand count was inaccurate. He said the hand count wasn't finished when the 695-page report on the counts was compiled.
The analysis follows an Oct. 1 report by The Audit Guys that said the hand count was "fiction." They based their conclusion on 17 pages extracted from the 695-page report that showed a 10% error rate in the count, an estimated 200,000 ballots.
The full report shows the numbers were worse, Moore said. In addition to missing hundreds of thousands of ballots, they double counted thousands more, he said.
The numbers repudiate the Cyber Ninjas' claim that its tallies closely matched the county's official election results, according to The Audit Guys.
Logan called The Audit Guys' analysis meaningless." He said they used the 17 pages to try to discredit his firm. The hand count showing President Donald Trump lost by 261 votes more than the county's official results is evidence of the hand count's veracity, Logan said.
"Our accuracy to the official results actually proves that our hand-counting method is extremely accurate and blows those numbers away," Logan said of The Audit Guys. "I have no doubt that’s part of the reason why these 'experts' are having a hard time believing they were legitimate."
Machine count data doesn't match hand count
The hand count was supposed to be the backbone of the Senate's election review, which Senate President Karen Fann called the "the most detailed, demanding, and uncompromising election audit that has ever been conducted."
Fann announced the audit's findings during a hearing on Sept. 24. She said contractors found fewer than a 500-vote difference between the hand count and the county's official results.
The Audit Guys are continuing to review and update their data. They published their findings on Tuesday.
Moore said the counts are not supported by the numbers in Pullen's report: The Cyber Ninjas' hand count of ballots in Maricopa County was off by about 312,000.
Moore said the hand count report was political theater, meant to make the hand count look plausible.
"They put a piece of bait out there that the vote was close, and every headline in the country bought into that," Moore said. "It was a farce. It was a distraction to keep people from looking further into the count."
Moore said their analysis found almost 23,000 ballots that the Cyber Ninjas had counted twice. He said they measured the discrepancies against Pullen's own machine count.
For instance, the machine count found 1,232 ballots in one box. The Cyber Ninjas found 2,464 ballots in the same box, exactly double. Another box had 1,397 ballots, according to the machine count. Cyber Ninjas counted 2,592 ballots in the box.
Moore said the findings call into question the Cyber Ninjas' actual vote counts — how many votes they reported for each presidential candidate. He emphasized the need for full disclosure of the election results, not just ballots.
"You can't even talk about their vote counts anymore," he said.
The Senate, though it has released ballot counts, has so far refused to release the actual vote counts.
Beginning in April, hundreds of volunteers converged daily at Veterans Memorial Coliseum to scan images, recount and record ballots for the president and U.S. Senate races.
The activities were livestreamed via a right-wing broadcasting company whose reporters raised money for the audit.
Some of the volunteers' activities remain unclear. Ballots were photographed. They were put on color-coded lazy Susans for counters to tally race results. They were examined under ultraviolet light to determine if counterfeit ballots with bamboo fibers were introduced into the system.
Once the hand count ended in late June, Senate Republicans commissioned a machine count of the ballots to check the accuracy of the hand count. Then they commissioned a digital review of signatures on ballot envelopes.
When the Senate contractors' findings were laid out in five final reports, the top line was that hand count and the machine count both showed President Joe Biden won the election in Maricopa County by about 45,000 votes. The counts also confirmed that U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, won.
The findings suggested Cyber Ninjas — a Florida cybersecurity company that never had done an election review and that was funded by Trump loyalists — got the numbers right.
But The Audit Guys say their analysis contradicts that narrative.
Moore's former company, Clear Ballot, is the nation's leading election auditing firm. The Audit Guys have decades of experience auditing elections and verifying results.
Moore said Pullen's machine count was accurate, so much so that The Audit Guys used it when performing their analysis.
Moore said the data made public Friday clearly shows the hand count's flaws, most of them fatal.
Pullen's report is laid out in a grid detailing various counts that are broken down by each box of ballots. A single line identifies the pallets where the boxes came from, the dates on the boxes, the dates of the hand count and the results.
Individual data sheets in the 695-page report show the hand counts weren't always recorded. Brackets purporting to show the hand count were left blank. Others were marked by "???" where the counts were recorded.
"Page 654 is an example of a box (of ballots) that the Ninjas didn't count," Moore said. "Or if they did count it, they didn't report it."
The page was 654 in the database released by the Senate on Friday but actually labeled as Page 627 of 695.
A total of 1,634 countable boxes of ballots were turned over to the Senate for review, with each box on average containing 1,200 ballots.
The number of ballots that were not counted by the Cyber Ninjas filled 166 boxes, The Audit Guys reported.
Pullen: 'Cyber Ninjas was not finished'
Pullen on Monday said the Audit Guys used faulty logic to assess the hand count. He said the data in the 695-page report was not meant to be a final analysis of ballot counts.
"Cyber Ninjas was not finished with their reconciliation of their hand count when we started the machine count," he said in an email. "Doug Logan provided the counts on boxes that they had completed their reconciliation."
Cyber Ninjas was still trying to reconcile the hand count while the machine count was ongoing. In some cases, they were still counting, Pullen said.
"Once again, Mr. White and Mr. Moore are overreaching on their conclusions," he said.
In his Sept. 24 report to the Senate, Pullen noted problems with batches of ballots in the boxes. But nothing in his report suggested the counts in his data tables were preliminary.
Pullen, who is a certified public accountant, appears to have included the tables as examples of the accuracy of the machine counts, not to cast doubt on the hand count numbers.
Logan in his Oct. 1 statement contends the hand count was a massive undertaking. For accuracy, he applied a rule that two of three counts must agree within one count per 50 ballots.
"There is no perfect handling of 2.1 million ballots, especially with over 1,500 people involved and many of them volunteers," Logan said. "A certain number of clerical errors is expected."
Ballots often had to be retallied to ensure they fell within the accuracy thresholds, Logan said.
Logan questioned if The Audit Guys have the experience to question a hand count.
"It's also worth noting that none of these reports were put together by anyone who ever hand counted anything close to 2.1 million ballots, nor conducted an audit anywhere close to the scope of what we did," he said.
Contractors spent more time on questions than numbers
Senate contractors did not simply end with a finding that Trump lost in Maricopa County. They salted their final reports with doubts about the election process and voter integrity while maintaining they lacked the evidence to prove fraud.
Fann said the election review was not an attempt to overturn the 2020 election but a review to ensure the integrity of future elections. She punctuated her concerns about audit findings with a letter calling for an investigation by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
The audit was funded primarily by "Stop the Steal" nonprofits with leaders determined to restore Trump to the White House.
Trump continues to assert that the audit in Arizona showed the election was rigged against him.
And Republican legislators in states across the country are laying the groundwork for similar election reviews. Many visited Arizona and toured the coliseum as the hand count took place.
2020 election reviews are planned in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Michigan Republicans are also clamoring to follow Arizona's lead.
It is unclear if Logan or Cyber Ninjas will play a part in those reviews.
Moore said Arizona is an example of what not to do in an election review. He called the Cyber Ninjas a political tool to sow doubt, not to reaffirm, election integrity.
"Anytime Maricopa and audit are mentioned together, the word hoax should appear in the same sentence," he said.