Arizona Senate considers expanding audit of Maricopa County ballots to all races

·3 min read
Ken Bennett, state Senate liaison for the Maricopa County election audit, helps package ballots from the 2020 general election to be moved from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 14 in Phoenix, where they were examined and recounted by contractors hired by the Senate. The recount had to pause for various high school graduations scheduled at the coliseum.
Ken Bennett, state Senate liaison for the Maricopa County election audit, helps package ballots from the 2020 general election to be moved from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 14 in Phoenix, where they were examined and recounted by contractors hired by the Senate. The recount had to pause for various high school graduations scheduled at the coliseum.

PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate is considering expanding its audit of Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 election to include all contests, not just for president and U.S. Senate.

Audit organizers said they want to test county voting machines by examining results from all of the races.

“We are looking with other companies to do a machine tabulation of all the races on the ballot to compare with the Dominion tabulation back in November," said Ken Bennett, the Senate's audit liaison. "We will be looking at the images of all 2.1 million ballots.”

The examination would not involve a physical recount like the one underway at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It would be a separate audit using digital images of each ballot, Bennett said.

The effort would require a reexamination of the nearly 500,000 ballots that auditors have gone through since the audit began April 23.

Bennett said the Senate is considering hiring a California company to conduct the digital tabulation, but he declined to name it. He said the imaging would be done “in the time of the rest of the counting.”

State Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, said the results would not be used to attempt to overturn the election results but to ensure election integrity in future races.

Republican senators launched the audit after questioning the validity of the general election results in Maricopa County, where Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by 45,109 votes in the presidential race.

Auditors said in April the recount of ballots would be completed by May 14, when its lease on the coliseum expired. But less than 24% of the ballots had been counted before the audit took a week off to make way for high school graduations scheduled at the venue. Auditors indicated the recount could last into July.

Who is paying for it? Audit could cost millions

The Senate would not provide an accounting of audit expenses.

Several sites established by GOP operatives solicit money for the audit. Those involved include former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne and One America News Network personality Christina Bobb.

It's unclear how donations are used.

The Senate has used $150,000 of taxpayer money. It hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company, to lead the audit. Its CEO is Doug Logan, a Trump supporter who has espoused election conspiracies.

Two other companies do hands-on work. Pennsylvania-based Wake Technology is in charge of the hand recount, and Virginia-based CyFIR analyzes voting machines.

State Senate Republicans issued subpoenas in January to the county requesting the 2.1 million ballots cast in the county's general election. They demanded all of the county's voting machines, voter rolls, routers and tabulators used in the 2020 election.

'Bias and incompetence': Voting machine company won't provide data

The county leases its voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems, which was accused by Trump and supporters of rigging its machines to steer votes to Biden.

The company said in a statement Thursday that it provides information to auditors accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to certify voting machines but will not provide information, including passwords, to unaccredited auditors.

The company did not say whether it provided passwords to the two private firms the county hired to do a comprehensive audit of the county's voting machines in February.

Dominion accused Cyber Ninjas of demonstrating "bias and incompetence" in the way it conducted the audit.

Dominion sued Powell and Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, each for $1.3 billion. It sued Trump supporter and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion and Fox News for $1.6 billion.

The lawsuits accuse the defendants of spreading false and damaging claims about election fraud as part of a disinformation campaign.

Contributing: Jen Fifield

Robert Anglen investigates consumer issues for The Republic. If you're the victim of fraud, waste or abuse, reach him at robert.anglen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8694. Follow him on Twitter @robertanglen.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Senate considers expanding Maricopa ballot audit to all races