A Republican official stood by the original vote count in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Now he’s being barred from the Cyber Ninjas audit site.

AP21141517410243
The Republican fronting the controversial vote recount in Maricopa County, Arizona, has been locked out of the audit. Matt York/AP Photo
  • Ken Bennett, the director of Arizona’s Maricopa County audit, was locked out of the vote recount.
  • This was after he shared sample data with external analysts that matched the official vote tally.
  • A local news outlet said Bennett was barred from the state grounds where a vote recount is underway.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ken Bennett, a Republican official and spokesperson for the Maricopa County election audit, was barred last week from entering the audit building.

The Arizona Republic reported that Bennett is now persona non grata at the ongoing recount because he shared sample data from the count with election-technology analysts Larry Moore and Benny White.

The Republic reported that Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state, was barred on July 23 from entering the state fairgrounds where the Maricopa County audit is still going on.

A new vote recount was ordered by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann last week. During this separate count, the 2.1 million ballots are expected to be tallied again via high-speed paper counters to check Cyber Ninjas’ work.

Speaking to the news outlet, Rod Thomson, Cyber Ninjas’ spokesperson, denied barring Bennett from the premises, saying the order came from Fann’s office.

Fann suggested on July 13 that the official vote count and Cyber Ninjas’ hand-counted tallies did not match, which necessitated a further recount. But the data that Bennett provided to Moore and White corroborated the county’s officially certified vote numbers. This could call into question any results or conclusions drawn from Cyber Ninjas’ audit.

President Joe Biden won the election in Maricopa County last November by more than 45,000 votes. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump has continued to allege that there were voter irregularities in Arizona, both in statements and at rallies.

The Maricopa County audit is being run by Cyber Ninjas, a private Florida consultancy that has no prior experience handling election ballots. Doug Logan, its founder, is a “Stop the Steal” supporter who promoted election conspiracy theories in favor of Trump. Most recently, Logan even appeared in an election-conspiracy-theory film alleging that the CIA was behind election misinformation.

Cyber Ninjas wants the methods it uses to recount the votes to be kept secret, citing trade secrets and proprietary equipment. But the effectiveness of the audit was called into question after workers from Cyber Ninjas were seen leaving ballots unattended and laptop computers unlocked. Cyber Ninjas has also been criticized for investigating far-fetched theories that 40,000 Biden ballots were smuggled in from Asia, by looking for traces of bamboo and “Chinese paper” in the voting ballots.

Fann, Bennett, and Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.