Arizona Senate Assures Recount Secure 05/08 07:36
The Republican president of the Arizona Senate said in a letter Friday to
the U.S. Justice Department that ballots being recounted from November's
presidential election are secure and the department's worries about voter
intimidation are unfounded.
PHOENIX (AP) -- The Republican president of the Arizona Senate said in a
letter Friday to the U.S. Justice Department that ballots being recounted from
November's presidential election are secure and the department's worries about
voter intimidation are unfounded.
The letter from Senate President Karen Fann came two days after the head of
the department's Civil Rights Division sought assurances from the Senate that
2.1 million ballots from the state's most populous county are being secured as
federal law requires.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan also warned
Fann that the Senate's plan to have the contractor overseeing the unprecedented
election audit contact voters could amount to illegal voter intimidation.
Fann said in her response that the Senate had determined several weeks ago
that plans to directly contact voters to see if they actually cast a ballot
were being indefinitely deferred. And Fann said that if the Senate ultimately
decides to contact voters, the vendor will implement detailed rules ensuring
the contacts comply with federal and state civil rights law.
The Justice Department letter said federal law requires ballots from federal
elections to remain in the control of election officials for 22 months, and
that Fann's decision to hand them over to a contractor may violate that law.
Fann, a Republican, said in her response that security is tight at the state
fairgrounds venue where teams of contractors are recounting votes in the race
won by President Joe Biden, and that former Arizona Secretary of State Ken
Bennett is at the site daily to ensure that remains true.
She vowed that "not a single ballot has been destroyed, defaced, lost or
adulterated" and said she was confident none would be.
A Justice Department spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request
for comment on Fann's letter.
Voting rights groups last week asked the Justice Department to send monitors
to Veterans Memorial Coliseum to watch over the recount.
"We are very concerned that the auditors are engaged in ongoing and imminent
violations of federal voting and election laws," said the letter sent by the
Brennan Center for Justice, the Leadership Conference and Protect Democracy.
The Senate is counting ballots from Maricopa County, which it obtained after
a judge upheld a December subpoena issued by Fann because she wanted to do a
separate audit of the results to ensure that Biden actually won in Arizona.
Fann has said it is needed to put to rest concerns by former President Donald
Trump and his backers that he lost Arizona and other battleground states bets
because of fraud.
Multiple audits, a hand recount of a sample of Maricopa County ballots, and
numerous lawsuits found no evidence of any problems with the election.
In addition to the 2.1 million ballots, the county handed over their ballot
tabulation equipment, computer servers and other elections-related equipment
and a huge trove of information, including its voter database. None of the
elections equipment is ever connected to the internet.
In another developments Friday, Jack Sellers, the Republican chairman of the
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said the Senate is now threatening to
issue a new subpoena to obtain routers the county uses for all its departments,
including the sheriff's office. The county has refused to turn them over,
saying doing so would cause major security issues and cripple county operations.
"We have provided eight terabytes of data, ballots and election equipment as
commanded by the subpoenas," Sellers said in a statement. "Our efforts to
cooperate while following the law have been rewarded with accusations,
untruths, and threats."
Also Friday, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs asked GOP Gov. Doug
Ducey to provide her security. The request was granted.
Hobbs tweeted late Thursday that she had received several death threats
because she is an outspoken critic of the Senate's unprecedented effort to
audit the 2020 election, which she and Ducey both certified last year and
declared as free and fair. She also complained that she was chased by a
reporter for a rightwing website. Hobbs is the state's top elections official.
"The @ArizonaAudit and its far-right allies know their rhetoric will lead to
this," she tweeted. "They are complicit."
Ducey's spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, said the governor immediately assigned a
Department of Public Safety detail to Hobbs.
"Threats of violence are completely unacceptable, we take them very
seriously," Karamargin said.
Hobbs wrote a letter earlier this week to Bennett, laying out a series of
concerns she had with the policies the contractor was using in the recount.
Hobbs said the policies were "vague and insufficient to ensure accuracy and
Bennett responded Friday, saying Hobbs had signed a court stipulation
Wednesday releasing any claims that the recount policies were "legally
inadequate or not 'consistent with state and federal statutory and
constitutional law and the EPM, including with respect to the security and
integrity of ballots and election equipment.' "
"With all due respect, it reads like a political press release calculated to
undermine a process that you have opposed since its inception," Bennett of
The recount that began on April 23 is moving extremely slowly, with only
about 10% of the ballots counted so far and only a week left on the Senate's
lease on the Coliseum.
Bennett said earlier this week that he hopes they can pause the recount
while a series of high school graduations are held and then restart it at the
same site. The fair board's spokeswoman, however, said an extension is not