Arizona’s audit of the ballots voted in the 2020 presidential election could have a “QAnon problem,” according to the organization organized by the watchdog, Media Matters.
The state-controlled Republican Senate ordered a review of Maricopa County’s approximately 2.1 million ballots in April, after months of unfounded election fraud claims made by ex President Donald Trump, his followers and marginalized groups who are said to have cost him the election.
Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since 1996, winning by a margin of about 10,000 votes out of 3.3 million votes, contributing to Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Ballots and computer hard drives containing vote count data were confiscated and handed over to Cyber Ninjas, the company chosen to oversee the audit by the Arizona Senate.
Cyber Ninjas “has no electoral experience” and is led by Doug Logan, “a man who has shared unfounded conspiracy theories claiming that the official results of the 2020 presidential election are illegitimate,” the Associated Press reported.
Many of these theories were proposed by QAnon, a broad set of conspiracy ideas that are based around the notion that Trump was chosen to fight a liberal “Deep State” cabal that collects the blood of children to remain young.
These conspiracies are believed to have played a motivating factor in China Insurrection of January 6 this prompted Trump supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.
According to the Media Matters Report, by the author of Olivia Little, “the evidence that underlies this effort appears and much of the work to generate support has come from two QAnon fans, Liz Harris and Bobby Piton “.
Media Matters says Harris and Snape enjoy “influential roles as two of the main promoters of the Elections in Arizona fraud conspiracy theory, working behind the scenes ”with the authorities.
A report from the Republic of Arizona cited by Media Matters states that Harris and Snape are influential figures in the audit.
Harris ran as a Republican in the Arizona House of Representatives in 2020, but lost. According to Media Matters, he makes “basic” efforts to find election fraud and “generally broadcasts several daily videos related to Arizona’s audit on YouTube and Facebook.”
Piton is the head of an investment planning company in Illinois.
Media Matters also says the three appear to be connected. He cites Snape’s claims about the far-right social media platform Gab that he would give Logan his investigation into alleged election fraud in Maricopa, “the person who won the bid to conduct the audit.”
Python confirmed to The Daily Beast in April, he was working on the audit “unofficially” after Logan asked him for help. Snape also appeared on YouTube, praying a rosary for Logan and Harris.
According to the report, his Facebook account appears to have shared numerous images in support of Trump and others challenging the 2020 election results originated by QAnon groups. Some feature the QAnon WWG1WGA slogan, which means “Where we go one, we all go”.
Harris’ social media accounts have similar content, according to the report.
Media Matters said Snape “broadcast live what appears to be” what was “a private Zoom meeting on the election audit between Harris, [Representative] Andy Biggs, members of the Arizona Senate, and himself.
The audit has been criticized for the continuity of conspiracy theories and concerns about their methods.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has written to Arizona Republican Senate President Karen Fann that confiscation of ballots may affect federal law requiring ballots to be in the control of officials for 22 months.
Deputy Chief Attorney General Pamela Karlan wrote: “Past experience with similar research efforts across the country has raised concerns that they may be targeting minority voters, which may involve bans against intimidation of the Voting Rights Act … can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that may deter them from seeking to vote in the future. “
Jennifer Morrell, a partner at Elections Group, a consulting firm that advises state and local election officials who has not worked in Arizona, told the AP, “I think the activities that are taking place here are reckless. and they have no form or form and the form does not look like an audit ”.
Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. A call to Piton’s investment planning company was not answered.
Harris told Al Jazeera in a text message, “The fact that you’re reporting this tells me you’re part of the problem.”
Media Matters said “Harris and Snape’s involvement in Arizona’s election audit is more than worrying – if their claims of working with Arizona audit officers and senators are true, it means an attempt to overthrow Arizona’s election results have been quietly influenced by two QAnon supporters working from within. “
Arizona Republicans don’t seem to be worried. The Arizona Senate signed a lease to continue the audit Friday. The lease lasts until the end of June.