The so-called “audit” of ballots being done in Maricopa County, Ariz., by a private contractor has turned into a lesson for other states considering the same thing. The lesson is: Don’t let it happen. Taxpayers will end up paying the bills.

The Arizona Senate forced election officials in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, to turn over more than 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election plus all its voting machines to a no-experience, conspiracy-theory-besotted, comically named company, Cyber Ninjas.

The company is examining ballots for, among other things, traces of bamboo. The theory is that 40,000 ballots were somehow secretly shipped from Asia and dropped into the Arizona count. Fantastical thinking knows no bounds.

Whatever the Senate had hoped for with this farcical effort, Cyber Ninjas’ plans aren’t going well. By the originally set completion date, May 14, it had examined only about 105 of the ballots. After that date, everything had to be moved off the floor of Veterans Memorial Coliseum because of a high school graduation event.

Late last month, after listening to baseless claims that election officials had altered ballots, long-suffering Maricopa County Republicans had had enough.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers accused Senate President Karen Fann of “legitimizing a grift disguised as an audit.” Vice Chairman Bill Gates urged local business leaders to speak out to stop the madness.

Damage to the reputation of a state noteworthy for holding clean and well-run elections is only the beginning.

Intelligence experts at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have now agreed with the opinion of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Since Cyber Ninjas did not secure the ballots or voting machines, no one can verify that the machines were not tampered with. Without that verification, these machines cannot be used again.

Maricopa County spent $6 million installing the election system. Taxpayers will be on the hook for its replacement.

Officials in Michigan, New Hampshire, California and other states are being pressured to continue down the same yellow-brick road.

Cyber Ninjas, or maybe the state Republican Party that allowed this to happen, should pay Maricopa County’s $6 million loss out of their pockets. Maybe add in some punitive damages for defamed county voting officials as well.

Placing accountability where it belongs might finally stop this craziness.

“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to

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