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Justice Department Had to Issue a Warning to States Over Adopting Arizona-Like Election 'Audits'

Justice Department Had to Issue a Warning to States Over Adopting Arizona-Like Election 'Audits'
Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump's months-long smear campaign against the validity of the 2020 election has been debunked by countless election officials, courts, recounts, and audits, but the GOP's election fraud fantasies still persist.

In Maricopa County, Arizona—despite multiple recounts and validations of now-President Joe Biden's victory—partisan officials are continuing with a partisan forensic audit, still searching for any potential validation for their baseless claims of election fraud. The audit is overseen by Cyber Ninjas, a firm with no electoral experience, whose founder posted conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 election.

This has led other swing states Trump lost—such as Georgia and Pennsylvania—to weigh their options in following Arizona's lead and pursuing even more audits in hopes of sowing further doubt in American democracy.

Now, the Department of Justice has issued a warning against the potential audits, emphasizing that any ballots or other election data must remain under the supervision of election officials if handed over to private firms.

The document reads:

"Election audits are exceedingly rare. But the Department is concerned that some jurisdictions conducting them may be using, or proposing to use, procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Act. The duty to retain and preserve election records necessarily requires that elections officials maintain the security and integrity of those records and their attendant chain of custody, so that a complete and uncompromised record of federal elections can be reliably accessed and used in federal law enforcement matters."

It goes on to note the penalties imposed by violations of these rules, such as $1000 fines and up to a year in prison for each violation.

The memo came off as a swipe against the Maricopa County audit, which has been fraught with partisanship and has stoked concerns that Republican officials and firms like Cyber Ninjas are botching the integrity of the audit.

Social media users agreed.

Others claim a mere warning isn't enough, and that the Justice Department should intervene.

Given the broad jurisdiction granted to individual states over their election laws, Justice Department intervention could introduce new complications regarding Republican election fraud fantasies.