PHOENIX – An Arizona Senate-ordered recount of nearly 2.1 million Maricopa County general election ballots could extend beyond May 14, the target date for conclusion.
Liaison with Senate audit and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said on Saturday that there was “no deadline” for the verification and that the recount may have to stop on May 14, when the Veterans Memorial Coliseum is booked to host the graduation of several schools secondary.
The audit, headquartered at the State Fairground Coliseum, would resume about a week later, Bennett said, and the Senate has spoken with state fair officials and obtained permission. to use the space “as long as we need it” after graduation.
Last week Bennett said he was confident workers would end up finishing on May 14 and plans to increase the number of poll counters and shifts starting Monday.
Bennett offered no estimate of the number of recounted ballots on Saturday.
Time consuming process
Hand counters examined ballots at about 20 tables on Saturday.
One of the five-person tables – one person placing each ballot on a turnstile, three people counting, and one person removing each ballot – counted about 50 ballots in 12 minutes.
The downtime before the ballot count started was about 10 to 12 minutes. The next batch of about 50 ballots took about 16 minutes to pass.
It took about 40 minutes at this table to pass 100 ballots.
Bennett said temp agency staff should be in place to increase the number of counting tables to 46 on Monday, more than doubling the number of counters from 60 to 138 per shift. Instead of two shifts a day, the counters would fill three shifts, Bennett said.
Bennett declined to estimate how long it would take to complete the recount. “We have as much time as we need to get it right,” he said.
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The comprehensive audit includes a manual count of the presidential race and the race for the U.S. Senate on nearly 2.1 million ballots, analysis of voter information, and an audit of county voting technology.
The Arizona Democratic Party and county supervisor Steve Gallardo have filed a lawsuit to end the recount pushed by Republican senators, claiming it violated election laws and lacked protections to secure ballots. voting as well as voter confidentiality.
While the audit continues, a Superior Court judge has ordered private contractors responsible for the Senate audit to disclose its policies and procedures.
Two observers from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office were on the ground to monitor the process on Saturday.
Unknown donors invest in audit
The Republican-controlled state Senate hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based tech company with no known experience with election audits, to oversee the county’s audit.
Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, who has a history of posting unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud online, initially said he expected the manual count to take 16 days and provide a full report in 60 days.
Non-partisan election auditing experts told The Arizona Republic the timing and price were unrealistic.
Harri Hursti, data security expert, hacker and founding partner of Nordic Innovation Labs, said the state election audits he was involved in in California and Ohio were narrower in scope, costing $ 2 million each and took about three months.
Regarding the Arizona Senate audit, Hursti said, “You can’t provide a quality, in-depth study with these hours of work and this cost.”
The Senate pays Cyber Ninjas $ 150,000 in taxpayer money, although unknown donors have also invested in the audit.
Logan said the audit would cost more than $ 150,000, but declined to say how much more or who would fund it.
A private organization has sprung up, seeking $ 2.8 million to pay for the process. FundTheAudit.com said it raised $ 1 million but does not list donors.
Prominent supporters of former President Donald Trump are also raising funds for the audit.
Christina Bobb, former Trump administration official and current presenter for the far-right One America News Network, and former Trump attorney Sidney Powell have solicited donations from their supporters.
Contribution: Jen Fifield, Andrew Oxford and Maria Polletta
Contact reporter Taylor Seely at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-476-6116. Follow her on Twitter @ taylorseely95 or Instagram @ taylor.azc.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Maricopa County Election Audit Has ‘No Deadline’