Arizona audit: Republican liaison tells Insider the audit process has been ‘very odd’ and that he may resign

In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett arrives at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.
In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett arrives at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

  • Ken Bennett, a Republican, served as Arizona’s Secretary of State from 2009 to 2015.
  • Arizona’s GOP-led Senate appointed him to be the chamber’s “liaison” to the Cyber Ninjas audit.
  • Bennett has said Cyber Ninjas has refused to share key information with him about the process.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Arizona state Senate’s official “liaison” to the controversial election audit in Maricopa County said in an interview that he could soon resign.

Speaking to Insider on Tuesday, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he remains frustrated with the audit process. He also said Cyber Ninjas, the private firm that is running the vote count, has refused to share with him any information about its own tally. “It’s very odd,” he said of the situation.

The company, whose leadership has promoted claims that the 2020 election was “rigged,” has been counting ballots since April.

“I expect that, eventually, the hand count done by Cyber Ninjas will be shared with me,” Bennett said. “But it hasn’t yet.”

That, he argued, has left him in a position where, months into the process, he is still in no position to say whether Maricopa County’s 2020 election results were accurate or not.

President Joe Biden won the county by more than 45,000 votes, a victory certified by local Republican elections officials who have blasted the Cyber Ninjas audit as unprofessional and conspiratorial. Outside experts recently issued a report saying that the auditor’s deviations from typical practices mean that its findings “should not be trusted.”

Arizona’s Republican-led state Senate commissioned the new audit earlier this year, forcing the county to hand over some 2.1 million ballots.

Earlier this week, Bennett told a conservative talk show host that he was on the “precipice” of resigning after having been denied entry to the building where Cyber Ninjas is conducting its latest round of ballot counting, as The Arizona Republic reported last week.

This is now the company’s second count, coming after state Senate President Karen Fann revealed that the first Cyber Ninjas audit had produced a different number of total ballots than had been cast in the 2020 election, as certified by local and state officials.

Bennett told “The Conservative Circus” there have been “serious issues” with the Cyber Ninjas process, with vote counts from worker tally sheets differing from the numbers that have been entered into the central database – and that he has not been able to verify whether that was ever addressed.

According to the Maricopa County Elections Department, however, there have also been problems with Bennett’s own assertions. For example, Bennett claimed in that same interview that duplicate ballots, which are printed for votes cast by members of the military overseas and citizens who used braille ballots, among others, were missing the required serial numbers that would link them to the originals. (“We discovered to our shock that they had essentially broken state law and not put a serial number on the duplicate ballots,” he said.)

Megan Gilbertson, a spokesperson for the elections department, said that is not true. “The accuracy and completeness of Maricopa County’s duplication process was confirmed in court,” she said, pointing to a lawsuit filed by the state GOP that led to the review of a random sample of 1,626 of the 27,000 duplicates.

As for his own future, Bennett told Insider that he is trying to meet with Sen. Fann to discuss “whether or not I can continue, or if I will continue.”

“I was hoping yesterday,” he said. “Here it is today.”

It is unlikely Bennett’s future will be decided before the end of the month.

“I am at a conference out of state all week,” Sen. Fann said in an email to Insider. “I will make arrangements with him after I return.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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