With the inspection ending the one-week mark at the end of last week, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is the state Senate audit relationship, offered an update on the contentious review, which includes 2.1 million ballots cast, a forensic review of the voting machines, and follow-up interviews with voters.
Bennett failed to give an evaluation of the number of ballots that have been tallied, or whether any scam has been found, although it has been originally thought that an audit report would be released within 60 days of it starting. The audit, which has been the focus of a legal challenge by Arizona Democrats trying to stop it and praise by former President Donald Trump and his associates, who maintain the 2020 contest was stolen, is about to "phase two" following an off-day on Sunday, he added.
The GOP-controlled state Senate hired a Florida-based firm, Cyber Ninjas, to lead the review, and the legislature leased Veterans Memorial Coliseum through May 14. Despite earlier affirmations about ending the audit by that date, when the venue is reserved to host several Phoenix high school graduations, Bennett now says there is "no deadline" for it to end. He earlier said it would take 60 days to issue a full report.
The audit would continue approximately a week later, said Bennett, who added that state fair officials were permitted to use the stadium "for as long as we need it" after the ceremonies, according to the Arizona Republic.
The report said organizers are preparing to increase the number of hand counters, gaining staff from temp agencies, and jump from 20 counting tables to 46 tables by May 3. The move would more than double the number of counters from 60 to 138 per shift.
The county election department announced Friday its staff was returning to a question by Bennett to pick up election machine tools it delivered last week in acquiescence with a subpoena. Bennett told the right-wing website Gateway Pundit that made up about four of six original truckloads of machines, and an IT company would likely finish capturing information from the remaining hardware in a couple days.
"All of the forensic data has been captured off of those machines and now they'll move into phase two, which is analyzing that data," Bennett said.
The audit, which is looking at the presidential race and U.S. Senate contest, has been subordinate to heightened criticism for multiple reasons, including restricted media access to the facility, questions about the auditor's qualifications and adherence to state election laws, and criticism about who is funding the audit on top of the $150,000 being doled out by the state Senate.