The U.S. Department of Justice expressed concerns Wednesday involving the unprecedented private recount currently underway of votes cast in the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Pamela S. Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, warned the recount process may be running afoul of federal statutes it enforces.
In a letter to Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, she asked her to explain what steps are being taken to ensure the process complies with federal civil rights and voting laws.
Reports suggest ballots and other materials being scrutinized as part of the recount are no longer under the control of state and local election officials and at risk of being compromised, she wrote.
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1960, she wrote, election officials are required to maintain for 22 months afterward “all records and papers” relating to any “act requisite to voting” in a federal race.
“We have a concern that Maricopa County election records, which are required by federal law to be retained and preserved, are no longer under the ultimate control of elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors and are at risk of damage or loss,” Ms. Karlan wrote.
Additionally, she added, the Justice Department has concerns involving Cyber Ninjas, a private security company with no prior election auditing experience that has been contracted to lead the recount.
Cyber Ninjas recently said in a statement of work that it plans to visit the homes of certain voters to “collect information of whether the individual voted in the election,” she noted.
“This description of the proposed work of the audit raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters,” Ms. Karlan wrote.
“Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act,” she added. “Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future.”
A message requesting comment from Ms. Fann was not immediately returned. Local media reported that lawyers for the Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate she leads are drafting their response.
Former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters have maintained for months that supposed voter fraud in Arizona and elsewhere led to him losing his race for reelection to President Biden.
No evidence has emerged to corroborate their claims of election voter fraud, however, and the votes cast in Arizona and nationwide have already been certified at both the state and federal levels.