Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 12:15 p.m. CT June 15, 2021
MADISON – A Wisconsin Republican who observed a ballot audit in Arizona over the weekend said the state Assembly’s top leader was foolish for being skeptical of what’s happening there.
Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville said Monday on WTAQ-FM’s “The Regular Joe Show” that he and his colleagues had to persuade Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester to let them check out the review of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County.
The ballot examination was approved by the Republican-run Arizona Senate but has faced criticism from members of both parties because it is being conducted by a group that has no history of analyzing ballots. Part of the effort has included checking whether ballots include bamboo fibers to try to confirm an unfounded claim that ballots were smuggled from Asia to Arizona.
“We had to do a lot of convincing to get the approval from the speaker to go on the trip,” Murphy said.
“He made fun a little bit of the whole bamboo ballot issue, which I think that at the end of the day was really a nonissue and is just what’s being used by the other side to discredit this kind of thing.”
Murphy said the checks for bamboo were part of a broader review of ballots. Workers are checking to see whether photocopies were turned in rather than original ballots. They also want to see whether any ballots were marked by computers instead of pens, he said.
“Where Robin Vos has seen enough fake news about himself that he would read reports on this operation and then just take them as fact was I think very foolish on his part,” Murphy said. “I think he should have been able to see that this was just fake news coming out of Arizona.”
Vos recently announced the hiring of three former law enforcement officers — including one with a partisan past — to review Wisconsin’s presidential election. Recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties and seven court rulings upheld Joe Biden’s narrow win in Wisconsin.
Murphy noted the investigators will answer to Vos and his aides, not the Assembly Elections Committee that Murphy sits on.
“On the one hand I have to give the speaker credit for bringing in the three investigators and the attorney to oversee that,” he said on the radio. “On the other hand, they are in charge of that operation, not our committee.”
A spokeswoman for Vos did not immediately say Tuesday what Vos thought of Murphy’s remarks.
Murphy took the trip with Republican Reps. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls, Rachael Cabral-Guevara of Appleton and Chuck Wichgers of Muskego. The costs were covered by Voices and Votes, a nonprofit group run by two correspondents with the conservative One America News Network.
The four declined to speak to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but Brandtjen and Murphy told WisPolitics.com they would like to see Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau incorporate an Arizona-style review of ballots into an ongoing audit of election processes it is conducting.
Brandtjen, who is the chairwoman of the elections committee, cautioned in her WisPolitics.com interview that she did not know whether the audit bureau has the authority to review Wisconsin’s ballots in the way Arizona is.
In his radio interview, Murphy said the Wisconsin delegation met for about an hour with Doug Logan, the chief executive officer of Cyber Ninjas, the private firm overseeing the Arizona ballot review.
“I wish they had picked a different name because it doesn’t really to me fit what they do,” Murphy said.
After their briefing with Logan, the Wisconsin group and a few others toured the area of Veterans Memorial Coliseum where ballots are being counted and examined for about 40 minutes. Afterward, the tour had an additional meeting, according to Wichgers.
“This was a very buttoned-down operation,” he said. “The precision and security that I saw there was unbelievable.”
Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state, disputed that assessment. She has documented problems with how the audit has been conducted.
“The procedures have continued to change,” she said in an interview Saturday. “The adherence to security practices has been very lax — physical security of the ballots and equipment, who’s allowed to access them, ballots being left unattended, computer stations being left unattended and turned on, procedures marked confidential being left out in the open where anyone could access them.”
Cyber Ninjas plans to report its findings this summer.
Hobbs said the firm’s results can’t be trusted because it has not kept an adequate record of the chain of custody of ballots and voting equipment. That issue will also prevent the equipment from being used in future elections, she said.
Taxpayers in Arizona will be responsible for replacing the voting equipment, she said.
Contact Patrick Marley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/15/republican-calls-vos-foolish-skepticism-arizona-ballot-audit/7701727002/