Senate to seek more electoral records in Maricopa County
Arizona Senate Speaker Karen Fann said on Thursday the legislature needed more documents and data from Maricopa County for an unprecedented and controversial review of the 2020 election results which is in its third month.
Suggesting that the Senate review may not be nearing its end, Fann told a hearing on Capitol Hill that she expects requests for additional documents to end up in the courts, highlighting places a new legal battle in the saga that has seen county and state lawmakers squabble over the scope of the legislature’s subpoena power.
Also during the hearing, the Senate’s main contractor responsible for the review recommended relaunching plans to go door-to-door to inquire about the participation of some residents in last year’s general election. .
The Senate had scrambled to send out pending solicitors after the US Department of Justice raised concerns that it could constitute voter intimidation and violate federal civil rights protections.
But Cyber ââNinjas CEO Doug Logan, head of the Florida-based company the Senate hired to lead the audit, has urged lawmakers to continue with the plan.
âBased on the data we’re seeing, I highly recommend that we do the prospecting because that’s the only way to know for sure if the data we’re seeing is real issues,â Logan said.
Both polling voters and bringing the county back to court means the overhaul effort that seemed to end should take even longer. Initially, the review was scheduled to end in May.
Fann had previously suggested that a final report could be released by next month, but on Thursday she indicated that is unlikely to happen.
âWe need more information because how do you do a final report if you don’t have all the information?â She said.
Senator Warren Petersen, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was pessimistic.
“If we don’t get the information, it will be an incomplete report, an incomplete audit,” said Petersen, R-Gilbert.
Sharpies, routers are back on the agenda
Logan also raised several issues that Republican lawmakers questioned for months as some claimed to overturn the state’s presidential election results.
He raised concerns about ink bleeding on ballots, a controversy that erupted around election day after the county provided voters with felt tip markers at polling stations. The marks voters made bled across the opposite side of the ballots, but county officials noted that the columns on either side weren’t aligned to ensure that didn’t affect the way the votes were cast. were counted.
Still, more than two months after the county handed Cyber ââNinjas around 2.1 million ballots pursuant to a Senate subpoena, Logan said further analysis was needed on the matter.
Lawmakers also took advantage of the hearing to try to rebut the decision made the day before by the Maricopa County Board of Directors to spend around $ 2.8 million to replace voting materials which officials say do not. could no longer be used after being turned over to the State Senate as part of the audit. .
But Fann, Petersen and their contractors argued on Thursday that such measures should not be necessary.
Meanwhile, Logan presented a list of additional documents he argued the Senate should get from the county, including computer network routers.
The county declined to provide its routers, saying it would create a security risk and that it does not use the internet or routers to transfer election data during elections.
Fann said the Senate will be looking for the documents and said she expects to find herself in court again with the county, signaling further legal battles to come over the ongoing election review.
Alternatively, Maricopa County could cooperate with the additional requests, Fann told reporters after the hearing, adding that the Senate wanted to verify all questionable issues “in six ways until Sunday.”
Logan also advocated door-to-door canvassing. The Senate maintained that canvassers would not ask voters who they supported in the election and instead seek to verify whether voters actually voted. But Logan previously declined to say how they would select households. And the US Department of Justice wrote in a letter to Fann that similar efforts across the country in the past have raised concerns that such investigations are directed against minority communities.
Supervisory board chairman Jack Sellers said on Thursday the county had provided everything qualified auditors would need to analyze election results and argued that Senate contractors were simply incompetent.
“During today’s briefing, uncertified Senate contractors asked many open-ended questions, describing as suspect what is in fact normal and well known to people who work in elections,” he said. he declares. “In some cases, they’ve dropped explosive numbers that just aren’t accurate.”
The vendors called on Senate officials to “complete your audit, release the report, and be prepared to defend it in court.”
Democrats, Republicans intervene
While Thursday’s meeting took place in a crowded commission courtroom in the state Senate, it was not a commission hearing. The only lawmakers who interviewed Logan and others working on the audit were Fann and Petersen.
Democrats said they were not invited to sit and ask questions, but were only offered seats in the audience, which they declined.
“Don’t be fooled. This is by no means transparent or legitimate,” Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix said. “Republicans have refused to be bipartisan and transparent throughout this process.”
Fann said that whenever a final report is released, the bipartisan judicial committee will discuss it.
But while Fann said on Thursday that the review was aimed at helping shape future legislation and was “not aimed at overturning the election,” the vice chairman of the judiciary committee immediately suggested otherwise.
âDECERTIFY THE ELECTION,â Senator Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, said on Twitter shortly after the Senate meeting.
Trump himself issued a statement calling the hearing “devastating news for radical left Democrats and the Biden administration.”
Some lawmakers are working on legislation based at least in part on the Senate audit.
Senator Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, who was one of four Republican lawmakers who attended the two-hour hearing, said it validated she was on the right track with the legislation she introduced to ensure a tighter chain of custody or to stop the use of Sharpies to mark ballots. These bills were blocked by the Senate Elections Committee.
Other Republican lawmakers who listened to the presentation were Senators Nancy Barto of Phoenix and Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City, as well as Representative Mark Finchem of Oro Valley, a candidate for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State. next year.
The 3rd count continues at the fairgrounds
A few miles away, at the state fairgrounds, the Senate continued its efforts to count the number of ballots it received from the county. Fann said the counts provided by the county and Senate subcontractors differ and legal counsel recommended another count before returning the ballots to Maricopa County officials.
Two paper counting machines and two paper stacking machines were on duty at 9 a.m. as staff members pushed their way through boxes containing thousands of ballots.
Still, there seemed to be some issues with the machines’ ability to register when a stack was put in to start counting. Staff had to rotate the stacks, trying every corner until one worked.
According to audit spokesperson Randy Pullen, the machines were running, they just weren’t counting as fast as they wanted, which one technician adjusted.
Under these conditions, the employees of a machine counted a box every 20 minutes or so Thursday afternoon. With 2.1 million total ballots, Pullen said he expects the tally to be completed by the end of the month.
Republic reporter Lacey Latch contributed to this story.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.