Republicans in Arizona are facing criticism for their audit of ballots in Maricopa County, which is premised on the lies told by former President Trump about the 2020 election. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, spoke with CBSN’s Tanya Rivero about her concerns with the recount based on former President Donald Trump’s lies about the election.
– Republicans in Arizona are well into their audit of the 2020 presidential election. The process could take at least another month. The state senate has been recounting ballots in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. The premise of the audit is based on former President Trump’s lies about his 2020 election loss. The recount cannot change President Biden’s victory in the Grand Canyon state, but some fear what its implications on election integrity might be.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is among those voicing concern. The first-term Democrat oversees certifying the state’s election results. Last week, Hobbs sent a letter to former GOP Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is overseeing the audit. She urged the state senate to adopt laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency or stop the recount.
We have Katie Hobbs with us today. She joins us from Phoenix. Secretary, welcome. Great to have you with us. Tell us some of your specific concerns with how this audit is being conducted. Do you believe that it is violating election law?
KATIE HOBBS: Well what we know from what we’ve been able to see having our expert observers in the room and this procedure is that the cyberninjas released about how they’re conducting this audit, number one, there is certainly not adequate security, both in terms of how the ballots are being stored and the chain of custody of the ballots. There’s not adequate security around equipment, and certainly the procedures seem to be very not up to par in terms of how you would conduct any type of post-election audit if you wanted to verify election results.
There are concerns about the screening of people who are in there counting the ballots. This is a highly partisan effort, so it’s not independent by any means at all. So there are numerous concerns. Most of all, the procedures that were seeing being carried out are undermining any type of valid result that you would get from this audit.
– Right. It seems strange that only one side is conducting the audit and overseeing it, and that side clearly has a vested interest in the outcome being in a certain way. So that doesn’t bode well for transparency or fairness. Your office typically oversees elections and their certifications, so why aren’t you allowed to have more direct involvement in how Republicans are conducting this audit?
KATIE HOBBS: Well this is really an extralegal audit or so-called audit. There’s really no parameters in statute for this type of thing to happen. And these folks really are writing the playbook here in Arizona to try to do this in other states. They want to go to Michigan, they want to go to Georgia. And really, it’s an exercise intended to continue to undermine the public’s confidence in our elections, to continue to tout the big lie, and to undermine the integrity of our elections.
It isn’t about finding real and valid results. We already know that this election was free from fraud. That was found in all of the post-election audits that we conducted according to statute and in nine post-election lawsuits. And so we had to go to court in this case to fight to get any kind of transparency, including the procedures that were released by the company doing this and allowing press in and allowing our experts observers. If the court hadn’t ordered those three things, there’s a lot about this that we wouldn’t know. But we’ve been able to share the concerns that we have because the court ordered that level of transparency.
– And tell us, we understand that this audit has even become a threat to your own personal safety.
KATIE HOBBS: Yeah. Certainly not the first time in the last six months this has happened. There were escalating threats against myself and my family right after the election. Before the results were certified I had armed protesters outside of my house. And again, this rhetoric is ramping up. We received different threats, both in our office and directly to us on social media. So I do have a security detail again as a result of that.
– Well, that’s good that you have security because that’s obviously unacceptable. Let’s talk big picture. What concerns do you have about potential precedents that could be set by this audit?
KATIE HOBBS: Right. This is clearly unprecedented. We’ve never seen– in the United States of America where we have free and fair elections as the cornerstone of our democracy, and in that system there’s winners and losers. And the loser accepts the result and moves on. This is unprecedented. And it’s not sustainable to think that this would be the future of how we handle elections.
And so I certainly think that states across the country are probably looking at their statutes around post-election audits and how to prevent this type of thing from happening in the future because, again, this is not any type of valid audit. This is an exercise designed to continue to undermine the public’s trust and confidence, to justify extreme voter suppression laws in various states, and this is not good for our democracy.
– I can’t help but think that Republican Liz Cheney, who as you know was recently ousted said it best when she said this is a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy, which kind of gets to the heart of it. Well Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your time.
– Thank you.