Arizona audit data copied, moved to out of state lab

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KPNX/CNN) – A copy of voting data from Arizona’s largest county is on a hard drive somewhere in Montana… maybe. It seems no one is exactly sure where that data went. The state’s top election official says the whole thing is sketchy.

Raw data from the Maricopa County Elections Department is apparently on the road headed out of state. But which state and why, no one’s saying.

Arizona Secretary of State, now a Democratic candidate for Governor, Katie Hobbs is not even sure what to think. “I… I… uh… I’m clearly at a loss for words at this point,” she said.

Data from the Arizona Senate Republican-led audit is apparently being driven to Montana, or maybe Virginia.

Hobbs said, “Something new comes up every single day and that’s just the thing here, this is one more thing.”

Here’s what happened: a company called Cyber Ninjas is running the unprecedented audit. It’s a hand recount of 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots from the November 2020 election.

The Cyber Ninjas contracted with a man named Ben Cotton who runs two computer forensics companies. Cotton apparently copied the server and hard drive data from the county’s elections computers for examination. The question now is where that data went.

Audit liaison Ken Bennet says Cotton physically took it with him in his car. But Bennett tells 12 News he doesn’t know the location of the lab, but he was pretty sure Cotton said Montana.

The only address we can find for either of Cotton’s companies in Montana is his log home. Both of Cotton’s companies have office buildings in Virginia, the primary address is Cotton’s house.

Hobbs is skeptical. She explained, “That was one of the things they touted when we said, this isn’t transparent. We have cameras. Well, they didn’t have cameras in the room where the equipment was, and there were no cameras in a cabin in Montana.”

Also not clear are how long the apparent lab will hold the data or what exactly it will do with it.

Cyber Ninjas is based in Florida.

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