USA TODAY International Edition

Arizona election audit has ‘ no deadline’

Maricopa County looks to increase counters

- Taylor Seely Contributi­ng: Jen Fifield, Andrew Oxford and Maria Polletta

PHOENIX – A recount ordered by the Arizona Senate of nearly 2.1 million Maricopa County general election ballots could stretch beyond May 14, its target date for conclusion.

Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett said Saturday there was “no deadline” for the audit and the recount may need to pause May 14, when Veterans Memorial Coliseum is reserved to host several high schools’ graduation­s.

The audit, headquarte­red at the coliseum at the state fairground­s, would resume about a week later, Bennett said, and the Senate talked with state fair officials and got permission to use the space “for as long as we need it” after the graduation­s.

Last week, Bennett said he was confident workers would wrap up by May 14, and there were plans to increase the number of ballot counters and shifts starting Monday.

Bennett offered no estimate on the number of ballots recounted as of Saturday.

One of the tables of five people – one person placing each ballot on a turnstyle, three people counting and one person removing each ballot – counted about 50 ballots in 12 minutes.

The downtime before counting more ballots began was about 10- 12 minutes. The next batch of about 50 ballots took about 16 minutes to get through.

It took about 40 minutes for that particular table to get through 100 ballots.

Bennett said staffing from temp agencies should be in place to up the number of counting tables to 46 on Monday, more than doubling the number of counters from 60 to 138 per shift. Instead of two shifts per day, counters would fill three shifts, Bennett said.

Bennett declined to estimate how long it might take to complete the recount. “We have as much time as we need to do it right,” he said.

The full audit includes a hand count of the presidenti­al race and U. S. Senate race on nearly 2.1 million ballots, an analysis of voter informatio­n and an audit of the county’s voting technology.

The Arizona Democratic Party and

County Supervisor Steve Gallardo filed a lawsuit to stop the recount pushed by Republican senators, saying it violated election laws.

While the audit continues, a Superior Court judge ordered the private contractor­s overseeing the audit for the Senate to disclose its policies and procedures.

Two observers from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office were on the floor watching the process Saturday.

The Republican- controlled state Senate hired Cyber Ninjas, a technology company with no known experience in election audits, to oversee the audit.

Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan initially said he expected the hand count to take 16 days and to provide a full report in 60 days.

The Senate is paying Cyber Ninjas $ 150,000 in taxpayer money.

We have as much time as we need to do it right.”

Ken Bennett Senate audit liaison

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