The Arizona Senate may sign a deal for another 2020 election review in Maricopa County following reports that some overseers of the audit are dissatisfied with the process.
The present audit, which includes a review of 2.1 million ballots cast in the state’s November election in the county, has been underway since April 23 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, led by the hired firm Cyber Ninjas. Audit liaison, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, told a reporter with CBS5 News on Thursday that hand counters had gone through more than 800,000 ballots so far. Organizers have said they hope to finish by the end of June.
But the GOP-led state Senate is already eyeing another recount that would be entirely electronic, running digital images of ballots through a program to count all votes cast for every race on the county’s ballot, according to the Arizona Republic. Bennett told the outlet they are considering a California-based election transparency nonprofit group called Citizens Oversight for the job, and the results from both audits could be compared to one another.
Citizens Oversight founder Ray Lutz, 63, told the Arizona Republic this week his group has never been commissioned to audit an election, adding that the technology being pitched for the process has never been used for an official audit.
“I would say absolutely this is a grand test,” Lutz told the Arizona Republic. “I think it is certainly a big test for me because I have put a lot of work on it for the last year and a half or so. We have enhanced it to the point now where I believe we can do a lot to provide information about how well (this election) went.”
The second recount would not disrupt the current audit at the coliseum — which has been praised by former President Donald Trump but widely criticized by election experts and officials concerned about the process — because it would use digital images of each ballot.
Auditors at the coliseum are examining ballots specifically for the Senate and presidential election; however, the second audit would look at every race on the ballots.
Voting machines create digital images of ballots each time one is fed into it. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors already provided the state Senate with those images as part of subpoenas a judge ruled in late February as “legal and enforceable.”
Lutz told the Washington Examiner he would prefer to receive the election data directly from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in order to separate the copies of election information used in the Cyber Ninjas audit from the information Citizens Oversight would be processing for its own recount. He noted he recently visited the site of the present Maricopa audit.
When Lutz was asked whether he is entirely confident his system could accurately audit the county’s election, Lutz told the Arizona Republic his team sometimes sees “mistakes that are made on our side.”
He talked more about this issue with the Washington Examiner on Friday. “Of course it’s computer evaluation which is really really good,” Lutz said, adding: “Our computer evaluation, when we disagree with a [election] vendor, We’re 97% right.” Lutz also said he has “observed many many audits, probably in the hundreds.”
State Senate President Karen Fann previously declined the opportunity to hire Clear Ballot, a firm that is said to be one of the only election audit companies that can digitally re-tabulate other company’s ballots accurately, similar to Lutz’s proposed method. The cost proposal for Clear Ballot to run the Maricopa County audit was $415,000, according to a copy obtained by the Arizona Republic.
It was not immediately clear how much the additional audit would cost the state Legislature.
The GOP Senate is spending $150,000 with the current audit, and donors are funding the rest. OANN anchor Christina Bobb is helping to raise funds for the current audit through a nonprofit group, Voices and Votes, but the total cost of the recount has not been made public.
President Joe Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast across the state. His lead of roughly 2 percentage points was due partly to his advantage in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, where the Democrat scored nearly 45,000 more votes than Trump.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has called the Maricopa County election audit a “political stunt.” Hobbs and some Republicans often point out that the results from two previous election machine audits, conducted for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, showed no irregularities in the county’s 2020 election. There was also a recount of a sample of ballots that did not turn up any problems.
Fann has said the audit is not meant to overturn the results of the 2020 contest, although Trump has touted how he believes it will show “massive” election fraud. Instead, the Senate president insisted the audit is meant to restore trust in the system and influence potential changes to the law.
The Washington Examiner contacted Bennett but did not immediately receive a response.
Source: Washington Examiner : Arizona Senate considering another audit of Maricopa County 2020 election: Report