Arizona Audit Finishes With Hand Count, Closing In on End of Paper Evaluation

June 17, 2021 Updated: June 18, 2021

The 2020 election audit in Arizona’s largest county is projected to end by June 26, officials said in a new update.

Audit teams led by Florida-based Cyber Ninjas finished counting virtually all of the nearly 2.1 million ballots earlier this week, with fewer than 100 braille ballots remaining to be counted.

Workers were shifted to performing evaluation measures on the ballots after they finished the counting.

Teams are looking at “anything related to whether the ballot was authentic,” Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state who’s serving as the state Senate’s audit liaison, told The Epoch Times last week.

That includes examining ballots for folds if they were said to have been mailed in, using microscopic cameras to determine whether marks on the ballots are properly aligned, and looking at the depression made in the oval to figure out whether it was filled out by hand or by a machine.

Workers are also re-counting some boxes of ballots as a sampling method to compare to the original count, Randy Pullen, a former Arizona Republican Party chairman who serves as another spokesman for the audit, told reporters.

Pullen declined to give an estimate on how many ballots were left to inspect. But at the current rate of examining more than 100,000 ballots per day, auditors expect to complete the evaluation phase by June 26, Bennett’s team said on June 16.

Auditors have been conducting the audit at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix since April, after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors refused to let the election review take place at county offices. Hundreds of machines used in the 2020 election, along with the ballots cast in the contest, were transported to the coliseum, which is roughly 1.5 miles from the state Capitol.

The Arizona Senate has control of the coliseum through June 30.

Arizona audit
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, hired by the Arizona Senate, work during a 2020 election audit at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Ariz., on May 1, 2021. (Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

But audit teams are still expecting to do some work in July, with their final report not expected out until August.

Teams are still examining data pulled from the machines as the ballot evaluation continues, according to Bennett.

A final decision hasn’t been made yet about a proposal to pull in a California-based nonprofit to tabulate votes using ballot images.

“Still working on that,” Bennett recently told The Epoch Times.

If the proposed work happens, the Arizona Senate would have three sets of numbers to compare—the original tabulation, the auditors’ figures, and the nonprofit’s tabulation.

Arizona senators have said they’ll use the findings from the audit to inform future election integrity bills. The Arizona Senate ordered the audit in December 2020, citing public concerns about how the 2020 election was run.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with information about the projected completion of the audit.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.