Arizona Sen. Fann has ‘confidence’ in audit but is ‘disappointed’ it’s not done
PHOENIX – As the audit of the 2020 Maricopa County election goes on a 10-day hiatus, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said Friday she hasn’t lost confidence in the contractors’ work but isn’t thrilled about how long they’ve been taking.
“I still have every bit of confidence in our vendors, the four contractors that are doing this,” the Prescott Republican told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
“I am disappointed it hasn’t gone faster and completed when we expected to be completed.”
After winning a legal battle with Maricopa County over access to nearly 2.1 million ballots and voting equipment from the November 2020 election, Fann hired Cyber Ninjas to lead three other firms on a full hand recount and forensic audit.
Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity company, had no experience conducting election audits. Fann’s selection of the Florida-based firm’s $150,000 bid quickly drew scrutiny over founder Doug Logan’s deleted Twitter account, which had activity supporting unfounded election conspiracy theories.
Some of the audit has been ridiculed, both locally and nationally, and has used methods that appear to be based on claims that President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump was enabled by fake ballots infiltrating the election.
Fann defended the auditors’ search for watermarks on bamboo fibers and the ballots, calling it a way to dispel rumors.
“While the media has tried to portray that everybody is just a bunch of kooks looking for bamboo and watermarks, in fact, what they’re doing is making sure,” Fann said.
The audit went on hiatus Friday because of previously scheduled high school graduation ceremonies at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the count started on April 23. The ballots and equipment are secured in a different fairgrounds building during the break.
The recount and forensic inspection was originally expected to be completed by now, but they will resume May 24 at the Coliseum under a new rental agreement that runs until the end of June.
Ken Bennett, the former Arizona Secretary of State who is serving as Senate audit liaison, told the media pool Friday that about 500,000 ballots, less than 25% of the total, had been counted.
Fann said the unprecedented nature and magnitude of the audit was among the reasons the extension was needed.
“It’s taking longer getting the volunteers and doing backgrounds on them, and doing that has taken more time. So that’s why it’s taking longer, the constant lawsuits and media interruptions and everything that has interrupted our process,” she said.
“I’m not making excuses. I’m just saying that I realized that they have, you know, they thought it would go a lot smoother and quicker. But if it takes longer to do it right, I’m OK with that.”
The Arizona Democratic Party filed a lawsuit to stop the audit as it was getting underway, but it was settled with minimal delays to the actual counting.
A judge said the audit could continue on the condition that Cyber Ninjas released its policies for ensuring voter privacy and ballot secrecy, which the company did a day after the ruling.
Media was largely barred from the audit at the start, but a pool arrangement was made to allow journalists limited onsite access to observe from a distance.