Arizona Senate Considering Expansion of Maricopa County 2020 Election Audit

May 30, 2021 Updated: June 1, 2021

The Arizona Senate is mulling an expansion of the 2020 election audit taking place in Maricopa County.

Senators are considering hiring a California-based nonprofit to analyze ballot images to create a third set of numbers to compare with the tabulation from Dominion Voting Systems machines and the hand recount being done by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm in charge of the current audit.

If the plan is finalized, the Senate would pay $5,000. The rest of the money would be obtained through a grant or through private funding, Ken Bennett, the former Republican secretary of state who is the Arizona Senate’s liaison for the audit, told The Epoch Times.

The firm being considered is a nonprofit called Citizens’ Oversight. The firm was brought to the attention of the Senate by John Brakey, a Democrat who works for Audit USA and is working as Bennett’s assistant during the audit.

Citizens’ Oversight uses what founder Ray Lutz describes as an audit engine, or a set of computers to tabulate the results from each ballot for all contests before comparing the numbers it generates with the official records. The review produces a discrepancy report.

“Basically, we do a total retabulation of the election,” Lutz told The Epoch Times.

The hand recount is focusing on only two races: the presidential election and the U.S. Senate race. Citizens’ Oversight would be using its technology to audit all the races that were on the ballot.

While Bennett said the ballot image analysis would be finished before the hand count is done, Lutz wasn’t certain that would be the case. He said it would depend on a number of factors, including the condition of the ballot images.

Epoch Times Photo
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are audited at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, on April 29, 2021. (Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP/Pool)

Lutz confirmed that his team sent the state Senate a cost estimate but declined to make that figure public.

The nonprofit has analyzed ballot images in various counties before but doesn’t appear to have been officially contracted to do so. In one recent case, Lutz’s team analyzed ballot images from three counties in Florida.

Lutz visited Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona, where the audit is taking place, to observe firsthand how the process was going. He found it slow and cast doubt on the timeline.

Bennett and Brakey told reporters at the arena on May 27 that more than 800,000 ballots have been counted. They said the process will be completed by June 30.

The current audit started on April 23 and resumed last week after a break. It involves recounting the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County in last year’s election. Workers are also examining election machines, including 385 tabulators.

The Arizona Senate is paying $150,000 for the audit. Private funding, including from pro-Trump groups, is covering the rest of the cost. The total cost hasn’t been disclosed.

Democrats have largely opposed the audit, including Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She recently warned Maricopa County against using any of the audited machines in upcoming elections, citing security concerns about losing the chain of custody over the equipment when it was handed over to the auditors.

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