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Voting Booth: Reporting on the Ground From Arizona—Audit Controversies and Election Integrity

Voting Booth’s coverage of the Arizona state Senate’s examination of 2020 election ballots from Maricopa County, the state’s largest county, has noted many previously undisclosed and important developments. In mid-May, after visiting Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix where the audit was taking place and having backstage and floor access, Voting Booth noted why the hand count of 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County was imprecise at key junctures, which could lead to discrepancies with the state-certified results where Joe Biden won.

The report’s prime takeaway was that the hand count was not compiling or comparing subtotals of the hand count with the building blocks of the official results, which is what an audit would do. By late May, Voting Booth reported how experienced auditors, including a respected Arizona Republican Party election observer, had obtained 2020 election data and issued their assessment of what happened in Arizona’s 2020 election. They found 60,000 ballots where most of the votes were cast for Republicans—but not for Donald Trump. In short, suburban Phoenix voters rejected him—an understandable explanation, in contrast to the many Trump-pedaled conspiracy theories.

As June began, those same independent auditors issued a challenge to the Arizona Senate’s pro-Trump lead contractors—underscoring that an independent team of experienced election auditors could do what the state Senate’s contractors had yet to do: trace the vote count from individual ballots through the process to the compiled election results. By mid-June, as the hand recount was nearing its completion, two camps were emerging backstage: one limiting the Senate’s investigations to those by fervent Trump supporters, and another seeking an actual audit of ballots and vote counts.

Voting Booth’s next report will focus on where the exercise in Phoenix’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum goes from here. It is not yet clear if pro-Trump partisans, who have minimal prior election auditing experience, will short-circuit a wider inquiry that not only evaluates the presidential election vote in Maricopa County, but also double-checks the hand recount.