PHOENIX — Six weeks into the Arizona Senate election audit and six months after the election, ballots were still being counted at the Coliseum Friday.
Earlier in the week the man charged with overseeing the recount, Ken Bennett, was hopeful the hand recount of 2.1 million ballots would be completed but that was not to be. In a text message, Bennett said, “The hand counting is nearing completion but we are not specifying a day. There will still be days of checking quality control measures,” adding auditors “still have lots of paper evaluation to do.”
Bennett is confident the audit will be completed this month.
“I’m just aghast at what is happening in the coliseum,” Watching the count from his home in Tucson, Republican election analyst Benny White doesn’t like what he sees.
White has been involved in audits in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Arizona. As well as being an observer in 30 elections in Pima County.
“They’re trying to create a completely new record. Then I suppose they were going to present that and say here is the truth. Don’t believe what was published in November,” White said.
In May, White and Larry Moore, the founder and retired C.E.O. of Clear Ballot Group, made a public records request and obtained the case vote record of Maricopa County’s 2020 November election. It’s the database of every vote cast in every race. Their analysis: Trump lost.
This week, White sent a letter to Senate President Karen Fann and Ken Bennett challenging them to compare the results of the audit’s hand count with his computerized results.
“If they were going to present the results of this audit or so-called audit as something that had credibility, that had reliability, that voters could look at and say there is some truth... They need to have some way of verifying what they’re doing is complete and accurate,” White said.
In May the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to Senate President Karen Fann warning the Arizona audit may be violating federal election law. Without naming Arizona directly, in a speech, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday said his department was monitoring the use of unorthodox post-election audits.
“Many of the justifications proffered in support of these post-election audits and restrictions on voting relied on assertions of material vote fraud in the 2020 election that been refuted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies of both this administration and the previous one,” Garland said.
Benny White, who voted for Trump in November, says Ken Bennett rejected his offer to compare results. Like the rest of Arizona, he’ll have to wait too for what the audit reveals.