By Zachary Stieber
The 2020 election audit taking place in the largest county in Arizona is on pace to be done by the deadline next month, an official said on Wednesday.
“The count is picking up significantly every day and with the additional shifts that we’re planning to put on, and other improvements in the process, we’re on a pace to get the job done in the time we have here at the coliseum,” former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the state Senate’s liaison for the Maricopa County audit, told reporters.
Bennett was speaking outside the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where contracted workers and volunteers are reviewing 2.1 million ballots cast in the 2020 election.
The audit also includes a review of 385 tabulators and other machines used last year.
Bennett was not able to provide an update on how many ballots have been counted in the audit. As of April 28, the number was just shy of 100,000.
The Senate has reserved the coliseum for the audit until May 14.
“We’re doing things that will get us to a number of ballots per day that will allow us to be done with the counting by May 14,” Bennett, a Republican, told reporters.
The audit started on April 23. A judge earlier Wednesday rejected an attempt by Democrats to halt the process.
Democrats alleged Cyber Ninjas and the three other firms that the state Senate hired to carry out the audit are not properly trained and have not installed proper security procedures.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin, a Democrat-appointed judge, said plaintiffs didn’t provide “substantive evidence of any breaches or threatened breaches of voter privacy.”
Lawyers for the Senate had told the judge that delaying the audit would result in slowing down the state legislature’s weighing of election reform bills, because the audit results will directly inform the legislation.
Bennett and other officials involved in the process have argued that ballots and machines are being secured well, with armed guard, and that voter privacy is being protected.
The liaison said he was “very pleased” with Martin’s ruling.
Republicans, including state Senate President Karen Fann, say the audit is meant to restore public confidence in elections, noting that polls suggest about one in two voters in the state aren’t confident in the 2020 results, which saw Democrat Joe Biden, who went on to become president, triumph over former President Donald Trump.
Democrats, including Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, say the audit will change nothing and will actually undermine confidence in the elections.
“It is dangerous,” Hobbs said this week during an appearance on MSNBC. “This is potentially precedent-setting for other states in the country. And if they are able to successfully continue to undermine voters’ confidence in our election integrity, they’re going to bring this to other states in the country.”
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