Politics

Arizona’s Secretary Of State Targeted By Death Threats Amid Conspiracy-Fueled Ballot Recount

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said she’s been the target of multiple death threats amid the ongoing review and recount of 2020 election ballots in her state — a Republican-led effort whose legitimacy has been questioned by Hobbs and other election officials.

Hobbs, a Democrat and the state’s top election official, said Thursday that a man had called her office “saying I deserve to die and wanting to know ‘what she is wearing so she’ll be easy to get.’” Hobbs said that “it was one of at least three such threats today.”

The secretary of state added that she and a staffer were later “chased” outside their office by a man she didn’t know.

It appears that the man who chased Hobbs was Jordan Conradson, who identifies himself as a reporter for Gateway Pundit, a far-right website known for spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories. Conradson uploaded a video to Twitter on Thursday showing him following Hobbs and another woman as they walked quickly toward the entrance of a building. He yelled at Hobbs: “Why are you working so hard to shut the audit down? What are you hiding?”

In reaction to the recent threats and harassment, Hobbs said on Twitter: “The @ArizonaAudit and its far-right allies know their rhetoric will lead to this. They are complicit.” 

KNXV-TV reported Friday that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) had assigned protection provided by the Arizona Department of Public Safety to Hobbs and her family because of the recent threats. 

It’s been almost six months since Ducey certified his state’s election results, which put Democrat Joe Biden ahead of then-President Donald Trump by 10,457 votes. Biden edged out Trump by more than 2 percentage points ― or about 45,000 votes ― in Maricopa County. 

Since then, multiple election audits have been conducted in Maricopa County, which is home to most of Arizona’s voters ― but none of the audits has revealed any fraud or other irregularities.

This, however, hasn’t deterred the Republican-led state Senate from forging ahead with yet another review and hand recount of all 2.1 million ballots cast in the county. The outcome of the recount, which is expected to take months, will not change Arizona’s election results, Hobbs’s office has said.  

Election officials have expressed concerns about the audit, which is being led by Cyber Ninjas, a private cybersecurity firm based in Florida. The company’s founder, Doug Logan, has come under scrutiny for his earlier promotion of election conspiracy theories. In a now-deleted tweet from December, for example, Logan said Trump “got 200k more votes than previously reported in Arizona.” 

Hobbs has been one of the most vocal opponents of the audit, which she’s lambasted as a “farce.” In a blistering Wednesday letter to Ken Bennett, who is serving as the liaison between auditors and the Arizona Senate, Hobbs said she had “several” concerns regarding the ongoing recount, including red flags concerning Cyber Ninjas and its processes. 

The audit procedures are “vague and insufficient to ensure accuracy and consistency” and “fail to adequately protect and document chain of custody of ballots,” Hobbs said.

She added that “untested, uncertified systems” had been used in the tallying of ballots. She also expressed concerns about the people who had been hired to do the counting. 

To make her point, Hobbs pointed out that Anthony Kern had somehow been allowed to be one of the counters. Kern is a former GOP state representative who led the “Stop the Steal” movement in Arizona and was photographed among the rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

“Given what was known about Mr. Kern before this ‘audit,’ and his inclusion regardless, one must wonder what procedures are truly being used to recruit and screen others involved in the counting of ballots,” Hobbs wrote in the letter.

According to The Guardian’s Sam Levine, who observed the Maricopa County auditors this week, the election review is occurring at a “slow and sleepy” pace, and potentially “dubious technology” is being used to verify ballots.

Auditors, Levine added, are also searching for traces of bamboo on the ballots ― an apparent response to the baseless conspiracy theory that China imported ballots to influence the election. 



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