PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A national, public interest policy institute at the New York University School of Law is asking the Department of Justice to send federal observers to monitor Arizona's audit of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County.

Maricopa County vote audit

The Maricopa County vote audit at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Brennan Center for Justice sent a letter to the DOJ Thursday morning, citing "concern that the auditors are engaged in ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws." The law group claims that the Arizona Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by the Senate to conduct the audit, are, "violating their duty under federal law to retain and preserve ballots cast in a federal election, which are and have been in danger of being stolen, defaced, or irretrievably damaged."

The letter references an Arizona's Family investigation showcasing security lapses at Arizona Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, where the audit is being conducted. Arizona's Family investigator Morgan Loew and his team were able to access and walk through the coliseum's hallways, staircases and parts of the main floor for four consecutive days. At no point were Loew and his team asked to leave.

The Brennan Center says the Arizona Senate and Cyber Ninjas failed to ensure security of the ballots by, "keeping doors unlocked and allowing unauthorized persons to access the ballot storage facility." The law firm is concerned about the integrity of the ballots and if materials being used by Cyber Ninjas will cause the ballot paper and marks to deteriorate.

"The failure to implement proper security procedures for the ballot storage location, in this instance, the Coliseum, has been well-documented. And based on the information that we have currently, the auditors and the senate have done little to address this situation," said Liz Howard, who is the senior counsel at the Brennan Center.

Another concern is that the Cyber Ninjas and Arizona Senate might engage in "unlawful voter intimidation in violation of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws." This issue stems from Cyber Ninja's procedure to deploy agents to "physically canvas" Maricopa County voters and "collect information" related to voter history.

The Brennan Center is one of three organizations requesting federal monitors be sent to Maricopa County as soon as possible to ensure ballot integrity. The other two signatories to the letter are the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Protect Democracy. The full letter can be read below:


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