Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said Thursday that lawmakers need more materials and data from Maricopa County for an unprecedented and controversial review of the 2020 election results, well into month three.
Fann hinted that the Senate review may not be over and said during a hearing at the Capitol that she expects the demands for additional material to end in court, sparking another legal battle in the saga that ends the The county and the state has seen lawmakers argue over the scope of the legislature’s subpoena power.
Also during the hearing, the Senate’s top contractor recommended reviving plans to go door-to-door to inquire about some residents’ participation in last year’s general election.
The Senate sought to put candidates on hold after the Justice Department raised concerns it could intimidate voters and violate federal civil rights.
But Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, head of the Florida-based firm the Senate hired to lead the investigation, encouraged lawmakers to continue with that plan.
“Based on the data we see, I highly recommend doing the search as this is the only way to be sure that the data we see is real problems,” Logan said.
Both a voter poll and a referral back from the county to court mean the review efforts, which appear to have been completed, will take even longer. The review was originally due to be completed in May.
Fann had previously suggested that a final report could be released by next month, but on Thursday she hinted that it probably won’t.
“We need the additional information because how do you make a final report if you don’t have all the information?” She said.
Sen. Warren Petersen, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was pessimistic.
“If we don’t get the information, it’s an incomplete report, an incomplete audit,” said Petersen, R-Gilbert.
Sharpies, routers are back on the agenda
Logan has also raised several issues that Republican lawmakers have been questioning for months when some argued that it would overturn the results of the state’s presidential election.
He noted concerns about ink bleeding on ballot papers, a controversy that flared around election day after the county made felt pens available to voters at polling stations. The markings that voters made were bleeding through the opposite side of the ballot papers, but district officials noted that the columns on each side were not aligned to ensure it did not affect the counting of votes.
More than two months after Cyber Ninjas County delivered about 2.1 million ballots according to a Senate subpoena, Logan said further analysis was needed on the matter.
Lawmakers also used the hearing to try to rebut the Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors’ decision the previous day to spend about $ 2.8 million on replacing voting machines that officials said will not be used again after being submitted to the State Senate for review.
But Fann, Petersen, and their contractors claimed Thursday that such steps shouldn’t be necessary.
Meanwhile, Logan outlined a list of additional materials he thought the Senate should receive from the county, including computer network routers.
The county has refused to provide its routers as it would pose a security risk and that it would not use the internet or routers to transmit election data during elections.
Fann said the Senate would catch up with the materials and said they expected to go back to court with the county, suggesting more litigation over the ongoing election review.
Alternatively, Maricopa County could cooperate with the additional inquiries, Fann told reporters after the hearing, adding that the Senate would consider all questionable questions “six ways to Sunday”.
Logan also advocated continuing door-to-door advertising. The Senate has claimed that candidates would not ask voters who they supported in the election, but would instead try to verify that voters actually cast a vote. But Logan previously refused to say how they would pick households. And the US Department of Justice wrote in a letter to Fann that similar efforts across the country in the past have raised concerns that such investigations may be directed against minority communities.
Board chairman Jack Sellers said Thursday the county had provided everything qualified accountants would need to analyze the election results, arguing that the Senate contractors were simply incompetent.
“At today’s meeting, the Senate’s uncertified contractors raised a lot of open questions and posed suspicion about what is actually normal and known to people working on elections,” he said. “In some cases, they dropped bomb numbers that are just not accurate.”
Sellers urged Senate leaders to “complete their review, release the report and be ready to defend it in court.”
Democrats, Republicans weigh in
While Thursday’s meeting took place in a packed state Senate hearing room, it was not a committee hearing. The only MPs who interviewed Logan and others involved in the test were Fann and Petersen.
The Democrats said they were not invited to sit down and ask questions but were only given seats in the audience, which they declined.
“Don’t be fooled. This is in no way transparent or legitimate,” said Rebecca Rios, Senate Minority Chairwoman, D-Phoenix. “The Republicans have refused to be bipartisan and transparent throughout the process.”
Fann said that whenever a final report is released, the bipartisan judicial committee will discuss it.
But while Fann said Thursday that the review is intended to help draft future laws and not “to overturn the election,” the judicial committee vice chairman immediately suggested otherwise.
“DECERTIFY THE ELECTION,” wrote Senator Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, on Twitter shortly after the Senate meeting.
Trump himself issued a statement describing the hearing as “devastating news for the radical left Democrats and the Biden administration.”
Some lawmakers are working on legislation based at least in part on Senate scrutiny.
Senator Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, who was one of four Republican MPs who attended the two-hour hearing, said it confirmed she was on track with the laws she was putting in place to ensure closer custody or the Use Stop of Sharpies to mark voting papers. These bills have stalled in the Senate’s electoral committee.
Other Republican MPs who heard the presentation included Sens. Nancy Barto of Phoenix and Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City and Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley, who is running for the next year’s GOP Foreign Secretary nomination.
3. The recount will continue on the exhibition grounds
A few miles away at the state fairgrounds, the Senate continued its efforts to count the number of ballots it received from the county. Fann said the numbers presented by the county and senate contractors were different, and the lawyer recommended another count before the ballots were returned to Maricopa county officials.
Two paper counting machines and two machines for stacking paper were in use at 9 a.m. as employees worked their way through boxes filled with thousands of ballot papers.
Still, there appeared to be some problems with the machines’ ability to register when a stack was being used for counting. Employees had to turn the stacks and try every corner until one of them worked.
According to audit spokesman Randy Pullen, the machines worked, they just didn’t count as fast as they wanted, which a technician corrected.
Under these conditions, the employees of a machine counted a box about every 20 minutes on Thursday afternoon. With 2.1 million ballots to be received, Pullen expects the count to be completed by the end of the month.
Republican reporter Lacey Latch contributed to this article.
Contact Andrew Oxford at [email protected] or on Twitter @andrewboxford.
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