Ninja report likely to spur election legislation

Ken Bennett, center, testifies last month, when he was still part of the audit team, at a Senate hearing with Ben Cotton, left, founder of CyFir, and Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas./Capitol Media Services photo from video

By Kyra Haas | Arizona Capitol Times  

As the first reports of the Arizona Senate’s review of 2020 general election results in Maricopa County are released, progressive voting rights groups worry about how the findings will be used as the basis for legislation next session. 

Emily Kirkland, executive director of Progress Arizona, said she expects Republicans to use the reports as justification to introduce a slew of voter suppression bills next year. 

“We’re in a place now where we can be confident that the Cyber Ninjas’ report is going to be the starting point for a whole series of bills, such that we are just making law based on the right-wing conspiracy fever dream that is the Cyber Ninjas report,” Kirkland said.  

Cyber Ninjas’ report is set to come out Friday – five months after the Arizona Senate’s review began at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Some Senate leaders are scheduled to meet Friday with contractors and others involved in the audit in public on the Senate floor.  

Kirkland said that while she has seen some Republicans look to restrict voting rights in the past – even before former President Trump won in 2016 – the 2021 legislative session was different. She expects much of the same in 2022. 

“Now, it is the attempt to make elections illegitimate after they have happened and to overturn the results of elections that trusted local officials have conducted and have verified after they have happened,” she said.  

Kirkland said the review wasn’t a one-time thing, but “a new reality” in terms of how elections are viewed in the future.  

From the beginning, Senate President Karen Fann has said that the audit was “all about” checking to see if election officials are following current law and determining whether new legislation is needed. 

“Do they (the laws) need to be tightened up? Do they need to be tweaked?” Fann asked. “Or, do we need to add some new laws because we’ve got things falling through the cracks?”

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