A GOP-backed auditing group in Maricopa County are burrowing through ballots in search of bamboo fibers and Chinese paper to prove a far-fetched theory votes were flown in from Asia

By Cheryl Teh

The Maricopa County vote recount has taken a surprising turn, with UV lights and high-tech cameras being deployed as workers comb through ballots, checking for traces of bamboo fibers in the paper.

The reason? To investigate a new theory that 40,000 ballots for Joe Biden were flown in from Asia and smuggled into Arizona's polls.

John Brakey, the co-founder of a group called AUDIT (an acronym for Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections), told CBS reporter Dennis Welch that "5K cameras" were being used to take snapshots of the ballots and examine the folds in the ballots.

The far-fetched theory rests on the idea that tracings of bamboo would prove that the ballots were created abroad, despite the fact that not all paper made from bamboo is milled in Asia, and in fact, there are several bamboo forests in the US.

Additionally, while bamboo pulp paper does exist in China, not all paper produced in China contains traces of bamboo as the country continues to have a thriving wood pulp and timber industry. 

"There are accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown into Arizona and it was stuffed into the box, and it came from the southeast part of the world — Asia —and what they're doing is to find out if there's bamboo in the paper," said Brakey, who is also an assistant to former Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett, who is fronting the audit as its spokesman.

Biden won the county by more than 45,000 votes.

However, Brakey — who claims that he has been investigating elections for at least 16 years — clarified that he did not believe the theory about the bamboo ballots.

"I don't believe any of that. We're just saying that this is part of the mystery that we want to un-gaslight people about, and this is a way to do it," he added in the interview with CBS.

Maricopa County and Brakey did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

The bamboo theory first emerged in December

According to Slate, this bamboo ballot theory may have come from a man named Jovan Pulitzer, an individual who says he invented tech that can differentiate between real and forged ballots based on its ink and folds. Pulitzer claimed in December that there might be "detectable" bamboo particles in the ballot paper, which can be found via forensic analysis

The ongoing recount of votes in Maricopa County has drawn criticism from both voting machine maker Dominion and the US Justice Department, after questions arose about the chain of custody and integrity of the ballots.

The Maricopa County audit is being run by Cyber Ninjas, a private firm based out of Florida that has been criticized for having no prior experience with handling election ballots. Doug Logan, its founder, is a "Stop the Steal" supporter who promoted several election conspiracy theories in favor of former President Donald Trump.

Cyber Ninjas has said it wanted the methods it uses to recount the votes to be kept secret, citing trade secrets and proprietary equipment.

Workers from Cyber Ninjas were seen leaving ballots unattended and laptop computers unlocked, The Post reported.

Bennett said in an interview with local radio station KJZZ.91.5 that the state senate audit of the Maricopa County ballots cost taxpayers around $150,000, but admitted during a press conference yesterday that private funds were also being used for the audit. 

The Maricopa County recount is partially funded by a group called The America Project via an online fundraiser, which has at press time raised over $1.5 million. 

The America Project is a section 501 (c) 4 not-for-profit organization. Non-profits classified as 501 (c) 4s have greater advocacy and lobbyist powers than 501 (c) 3s, and donations to them are not tax deductible. Other groups in this category include "super PACs," which can spend an unlimited amount of cash on political campaigns.