For months, far-right conspiracy theorists and supporters of former President Donald Trump hoped that Cyber Ninjas' audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County, Arizona would show that he really won the state — only to be disappointed when the audit showed what election officials already knew: President Joe Biden won Arizona.
The Cyber Ninjas didn't find what they were hoping to find, to be sure. But according to a newly released report by three elections experts, the entire review was flawed and unreliable anyway.
According to New York Times journalists Michael Wines and Nick Corasaniti, "The experts, a data analyst for the Arizona Republican Party and two retired executives of a Boston-based election consulting firm, said in their report that workers for the investigators failed to count thousands of ballots in a pallet of 40 ballot-filled boxes delivered to them in the spring. Investigators went through more than 1600 ballot-filled boxes this summer to conduct their hand recount of the election in Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state. Both they and the Republican-controlled (Arizona) State Senate, which ordered the election inquiry, have refused to disclose the details of that hand count."
Wines and Nick Corasaniti add, "But a worksheet containing the results of the hand count of 40 of those boxes was included in a final report on the election inquiry released a week ago by Cyber Ninjas, the Florida company hired to conduct the inquiry."
Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
The three election experts who scrutinized Cyber Ninjas' audit are Benny White, a data analyst for the Arizona GOP; Larry Moore, founder of the election consulting Clear Ballot Group; and Tim Halvorsen, the Clear Ballot Group's former chief technology officer.
In their scathing report, the experts slammed Cyber Ninjas for having "zero experience in election audits" and said, "We believe the Ninjas' announcement that they had confirmed, to a high degree of accuracy, the election results of the second-largest county in the country is laughable."
"The Ninjas made up the numbers," the report said, calling it a "hoax."
It explained: "An enormous discrepancy of 15,692 missing hand counted ballots from 40 boxes out of out of 1,634, supports our opinion that the Ninja's hand count of ballots was so far off the Senate's machine count of ballots that any statements about the vote counts (e.g., that Trump lost 261 votes) are meaningless."
Katie Hobbs, Arizona's Democratic secretary of state, isn't surprised by the experts' findings. Hobbs, who has been attacking the Cyber Ninjas audit as a partisan joke, said, in an official statement, "It was clear from the start that the Cyber Ninjas were just making it up as they went. I've been saying all along that no one should trust any 'results' they produce; so, it's no surprise their findings are being called into question. What can be trusted are actual election officials and experts, along with the official canvass of results."
Nonetheless, Cyber Ninjas Rod Thomson, according to Wines and Nick Corasaniti, said, "We stand by our methodology and complete final report."