Audit backers pressure Senate to kill new digital recount of Maricopa County ballots

By Robert Anglen | Arizona Republic

The hand recount of Maricopa County’s ballots should end this week, while the inspection of the paper itself will continue likely until the end of the month, a spokesperson for the state Senate-ordered review said Tuesday.

As that process continues to unfold on the floor of Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, the state also will provide up-close views of it to visitors from across the country, said Ken Bennett, the media liaison for the ballot review.

On Tuesday, Alaska state Rep. David Eastman and Georgia state Sens. Brandon Beach and Burt Jones, all of whom are Republicans, walked around the ballot inspection stations. Georgia Republican Party Chair David Shafer also joined the walk-through.

Related: Hand recount expected to end this week; attention turns to ballot paper

Bennett said officials from other states also have contacted them, possibly including people from Virginia and Wisconsin.

As it stands, the review is closing in on completing perhaps the most basic element of its effort: recounting the 2.1 million ballots cast in Arizona’s most populous county.

“I think the counting will be done by the end of this week, and then all of the resources will shift to the paper evaluation, and that may still take most of the rest of this month,” Bennett said. 

Beyond that, inspectors are examining the paper more critically. That is to determine whether, for example, the ballots used computer ink or, as expected, ink from pens.

Anonymous administrators directing the campaign have pushed thousands of their followers to call and email lawmakers to insist there’s no need for a new recount. And it’s working.

“It is influencing some of the senators,” Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett said Tuesday, adding that opposition is being fueled by partisan extremism rather than audit concerns. “What else could it be?” 

Days earlier, Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, told followers on Telegram that she had “been able to confirm that the group out of California, Citizens Oversight, will not be used to do the ballot image audit.” 

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