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Liaison not worried about pro-Trump ex-lawmaker counting Arizona ballots

Former Arizona state Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, recounts ballots from the 2020 general election as a contractor working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Maricopa County ballot recount comes after two election audits found no evidence of widespread fraud in Arizona. (Photo by Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate liaison for the audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 election said Monday he doesn’t think it’s a problem that a Donald Trump-supporting state lawmaker who was voted out of office in November is taking part in the contentious recount.

“Absolutely not. We’re not counting the race that he was in and lost,” Ken Bennett, referring to former Rep. Anthony Kern, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

“We’re counting the president and the U. S. Senate race.”

Kern, a Glendale Republican, previously made headlines when he was seen at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He said he didn’t go inside the building when it was violently overrun by supporters of then-President Trump.

Kern, however, has been outspoken in his belief that President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump wasn’t valid.

Bennett, who is serving as the state Senate’s liaison for the audit run by Cyber Ninjas, said there are safeguards in place to prevent a single person from affecting the recount results.

“He’s counting one of the three triple-blind tally sheets with two other people and they have to match or they do it again,” Bennett said. “So there’s nothing that he could do to skew the results at all.”

Kern was unseated by Democrat Judy Schwiebert in District 20 in November.

The 2020 legislative races aren’t being reviewed during the ongoing recount of nearly 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

“If we were counting all the races on the ballot, he would be ineligible to be a counter,” Bennett said of Kern.

In March, the county released the results of two new audits of their equipment that showed no malicious software or incorrect counting equipment and that none of the computers or equipment were connected to the internet.

State law normally would not allow the full recount, but the Senate won a court fight to access ballots and do its own review as part of its constitutional duty to write elections laws.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann promised a nonpartisan independent audit of the results before choosing Cyber Ninjas to lead the effort.

According to an archive of what appears to be Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan’s Twitter account, he used hashtags and shared memes popular with people promoting disproven or unsupported allegations casting doubt on Biden’s victory.

Cyber Ninjas initially refused to release its policies and procedures for hand-tallying the ballots.

Counting started on April 23, after the state Democratic Party won a court order requiring the company to follow the law on ballot and voter secrecy and to file its policies with the court. Those policies were released Thursday, and by Friday criticism was piling up.

For example, the policies allow counters to accept a large enough error rate to perhaps show Trump won the state. But such an outcome would not change the outcome of the election because the results were certified months ago in the state and Congress.

If a miscount is determined, it could, however, boost the unsupported argument of Trump and his backers that election fraud and malfeasance lost him the White House.

Florida-based Cyber Ninjas did not initially allow journalists into the Coliseum. After several days, the media was allowed in but only in limited numbers under a pooling deal worked out by media attorneys.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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