Arizona audit of 2020 election hits hand-count milestone
PHOENIX (AP) - A Republican hand-held count of ballots cast in Arizona's most populous district reached a major milestone on Monday as the counters counted all of the regular ballots cast in the November presidential and US Senate elections, reported the Arizona Senate Association.
Ken Bennett, a former Republican Secretary of State who oversaw the contractors actually counting the 2.1 million ballots, said all that was left was a small number of boxes of Braille, capital letters, foreign military and double ballot papers.
The GOP-led Senate ordered the examination after President Donald Trump's supporters alleged without evidence that fraud resulted in his loss on the battlefield in Arizona and other states. The Republican-dominated Maricopa County's board of directors has repeatedly said the election was fair and trouble-free.
Bennett didn't count the remaining ballots, but they are a tiny fraction of the hundreds of ballot boxes that were brought to the state fairgrounds in April. The count was only supposed to take a few weeks but took almost two months.
Counters had to vacate the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in mid-April to make room for high school graduates. When they restarted after a week on May 28, more tables and counters were added to speed up the process.
Bennett said the formal hand recount ordered by Senate President Karen Fann would be completed by the end of the month. Now that the main count is complete, staff have been reassigned to help take photos of each ballot as part of a second phase of the review to ensure that no false ballots have been introduced.
"It's all aspects of the authenticity of the ballot," said Bennett, including creases in ballot papers, alignment marks to make sure the ballot was marked with a hand pen or marker rather than a printer.
Separately, the contractors read the computer programs used to count the ballots and examine the vote counting machines.
Bennett and others involved in the "Trial" did not disclose any information about the results. They are expected to be published in a report sometime after the recount is complete.
Senate Republicans issued a subpoena to take control of 2.1 million ballots, voting machines, and election data from the largest district in the state after former President Donald Trump claimed, without evidence, his loss in Arizona and other states on the Battlefield is compromised by fraud. The county reluctantly but surrendered it after a judge ruled that the Senate had authority to locate the materials.
Senate Republican leaders hired several companies led by Cyber Ninjas, a small Florida-based consulting firm that had no electoral experience prior to this year, to review the materials.
The review does not change the election result. However, some Trump supporters believe there will be evidence of his cheating history.
Voting advocates and electoral administrators say the 2020 elections were well conducted and fear that the Arizona GOP review uses sloppy procedures and examines far-fetched conspiracy theories.
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