PHOENIX – Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said Tuesday the number of 2020 general election ballots tallied during the ongoing audit she authorized doesn’t match the total documented by Maricopa County, but the Republican didn’t know how far off the counts were.
“They haven’t released a number yet, if you will, however we do know that those numbers do not match with Maricopa County at this point,” Fann told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
When asked about the size of the discrepancy, Fann said: “I do not know. They have not told me the number.”
Fann said the approximately 2.1 million ballots are being recounted by “independent machines” before the Senate returns them to the custody of Maricopa County.
“We are finishing up — the vendor is finishing up what we call the aggregation: double-checking the spreadsheets against the blue tally sheets, against the scans they did on the ballots,” said Fann, who authorized the audit after winning a courtroom battle for access to voting equipment and ballots from the 2020 general election in metro Phoenix.
“Because before we turn those ballots back to Maricopa County, they want to make sure that every one of those check-and-balances match before they start doing the analysis of all the data they received.”
Fann said a Senate attorney raised the possibility a couple of weeks ago that the audit tally wouldn’t match the county total.
“That’s when we said let’s get a couple of our own independent machines in, not Dominion’s, separate ones, and do our own independent — and all we’re doing is just counting the number of ballots,” she said. “It’s a paper-counting machine is all it does.
“That will help us give like a third check-and-balance to see if those numbers are closer to the vendors’ numbers or Maricopa County’s or they all three could be right on target.”
The new tally was expected to start Tuesday at the Arizona State Fairgrounds’ Wesley Bolin Building. Audit operations moved there from Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the beginning of July, more than two months after the process started.
State Senate spokesman Randy Pullen told pool reporters Monday that the new machine count would go into next week.
Work on a hand recount of the votes cast for president and U.S. Senate, two narrow Democratic victories, has been completed. Officials have said the final audit report is expected to be released in late July or early August.
The audit has been the subject of much scrutiny since it started April 23.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which consists of four Republicans and one Democrat, previously authorized two audits by independent contractors who are certified by the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.
Those audits found no problems, but state Senate Republicans subpoenaed the county for access to the election materials at the urging of supporters of Donald Trump who refused to accept President Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Arizona’s largest county and statewide.
County officials and others have questioned the methods, competence and motives of Cyber Ninjas, the audit’s lead vendor.
Fann said Tuesday she has confidence in Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm with no previous election audit experience.
“And I’m confident because it’s not just them,” she said. “Everybody keeps just counting on them when actually they are working with a number of other contractors that have experience in audits and in their expertise in their own fields. … This is a joint effort.”
Fann did acknowledge that things haven’t been perfect.
“Do I think that it’s gone as smoothly as it it could have? Heck, no,” she said. “This is the first time in the history of our nation that anybody has done an audit of this magnitude. And so, quite honestly, we are doing a lot of things, triple-checking, just to make sure that this is all correct.”
Fann has said the aim of the audit is to restore faith in the election system and find ways to improve Arizona’s voting laws, not to reverse the result of the election.
However, many Trump supporters still see it as a step toward invalidating Biden’s victory and returning Trump to office.