“Past experience with similar investigative efforts across the country has raised concerns that they may be directed against minority voters, which may potentially involve the anti-bullying bans of the Voting Rights Act.” , wrote Karlan. “Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters, which can deter them from seeking to vote in the future.”
Karlan wants Fann to explain how the Senate and its contractors will ensure federal laws are followed. She referred to reports of a lack of security at the old basketball stadium where ballots are recounted by hand.
Fann said Senate lawyers were working on a response she had promised to share when completed.
The Justice Department letter came six days after voting rights groups called on federal officials to step in or send monitors to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, state fairgrounds , where the ballots are recounted.
“We are very concerned that auditors are engaged in continuing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws,” said the letter sent by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Leadership Conference and Protect Democracy.
In further developments on Wednesday, the Arizona Democratic Party struck a deal with the Republican-controlled state Senate to ensure the confidentiality of voters and ballots in an unprecedented recount of the results of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County.
The deal reached Wednesday gives a hard time to a court order that already required the Senate and its contractor, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, to obey state laws regarding ballot confidentiality. Any breach of the agreement would be enforceable by seeking an emergency court order.
The agreement also puts in writing a verbal agreement between the Senate and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs that allows her to have three observers inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the exhibition grounds of the State.
Under the court order, the Senate and Cyber Ninjas last week released their policies and procedures for the recount. Hobbs Chief Electoral Officer Bo Dul told The Associated Press there were major problems with the rules, including that they seemed random, lacked detail and left a lot of room for interpretation – which is not never allowed in the counting of ballots.
Dul noted that the policies allow the counters to accept an error rate high enough to possibly show Trump won the state. Such a result would not change the outcome of the election as the results were certified months ago in the state and in Congress.
Hobbs sent a letter to the Senate Liaison Officer to his recount contractor, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett on Wednesday, formally exposing a range of issues with policies.
“Mr. Bennett, as a former Secretary of State, you know that our elections are governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security and transparency,” Hobbs wrote. You should therefore also be aware that the procedures governing this audit do not guarantee any of this. “
The developments come as the count of 2.1 million ballots in the November election won by President Joe Biden slows down. Bennett told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that teams doing a manual account of the presidential race lost by former President Donald Trump and the U.S. Senate race won by Democrat Mark Kelly had totaled less than 10 % of ballots since the start of April 23.
Bennett said it was clear the tally could not be done until the deal allowing the Senate to use the Colosseum ends on May 14. Several high school graduation days are scheduled to begin on May 15.