The Republican-led Arizona Senate’s audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County reached a significant milestone on Friday, but it will probably be weeks before the findings are released to the public.
“Audit Update: Paper examination and counting are finished today. Thank you to all the amazing Arizona volunteers who made this audit possible!” said a missive from the “Maricopa Arizona Audit” Twitter account.
Audit Update: Paper examination and counting are finished today. Thank you to all the amazing Arizona volunteers who made this audit possible! 🇺🇸
— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit) June 26, 2021
The announcement confirming the conclusion of the ballot inspection portion of the audit comes less than two weeks after auditors finished a recount of 2.1 million ballots cast in Arizona’s most populous county, which includes Phoenix, with a few exceptions, such as Braille ballots.
The physical review of ballots included an inspection of their weight and thickness, examination of folds under microscopes, and workers holding ballots up to UV lights.
Towards the end of the process, workers were examining 100,000 ballots per day, the Maricopa Arizona Audit said in a tweet on Thursday.
Ken Bennett, serving as the Arizona Senate’s liaison for the Maricopa County election audit, told OAN last week he expected the findings to be released in August. However, they could come as early as late July or as late as Labor Day.
The audit began after the Arizona Senate received a favorable ruling from a judge who found its subpoenas to be “legal and enforceable.” Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said the audit, led by private firm Cyber Ninjas, is not meant to overturn the 2020 election results but rather to restore trust in the system and influence possible changes to voting laws.
Maricopa County officials and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, have taken the lead in raising concerns about the process and security of the audit. Critics say the results from two previous election machine audits conducted for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors showed no irregularities in the county’s 2020 election. There was also a recount of a sample of ballots that did not turn up any problems.
The U.S. Justice Department also signaled it would crack down on post-election audits.
President Joe Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast across the state. His lead of roughly 2 percentage points was due partly to his advantage in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, where the Democrat scored nearly 45,000 more votes than former President Donald Trump.
Trump has cheered on the Maricopa County audit as he continues to insist the 2020 contest was stolen from him due to widespread fraud, and the review has attracted Republican lawmakers from other states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin, and inspired calls for copycat reviews in other places.
Trump and his allies filed legal challenges to the results in several states. These were roundly dismissed by the courts.
Federal, state, and local election officials, including Republicans, have insisted the November election was secure, citing no evidence of widespread fraud. This includes government agencies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which released a statement in November that said the presidential election was “the most secure in American history.”
This statement echoed then-Attorney General William Barr, who said the Justice Department had not “seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”