IN DEPTH: Trump supporters focus on ‘issues’ with election, not the final result, as Arizona ballot review falls flat

II remains to be seen how long baseless concerns about vote counts will continue to undermine the election process.

 ByRonald J. Hansen and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic

Reporters from international news outlets flew in to Phoenix to watch from a makeshift press box as volunteers unpacked, inspected and repacked boxes of Maricopa County’s ballots inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

They weren’t the only outsiders transfixed by the recount of 2.1 million ballots ordered by Republicans in the Arizona Senate.

GOP lawmakers from at least 18 states trekked to the desert during triple-digit heat to study the process, pose for pictures, battle members of the mainstream press and help push former President Donald Trump’s baseless concern for a stolen election.

“I like this approach in Arizona because it is scientific,” said Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, after he visited the coliseum in June. 

Arizona’s unprecedented undertaking was a curiosity to many, but notably less so to one group: Arizona’s state senators.

The election review, started almost singlehandedly by Senate President Karen Fann at the behest of Trump, his allies and some members of her own caucus, was barely discussed at private GOP Senate meetings during the 2021 legislative session.

Even as the review drew elected officials from around the country, briefings for GOP senators focused on legislation and other matters.

One GOP senator who supported a ballot review and a legislative hearing after the 2020 election said Fann wasn’t “having any caucus meetings or anything about it. It’s just kind of out there.” 

Ken Bennett, whose job as liaison was to update the Senate, said Fann, R-Prescott, rarely asked him for briefings, and almost no one else ever did.

“Had she invited me to a caucus meeting and explain things, I would have,” he said. “But that never happened.”

In a four-month investigation, The Arizona Republic dug into the election review by examining text messages, emails, public records and court records, many made public after the news outlet sued the state for access.

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