Arizona Senate audit liaison threatens to quit after being denied access to ballot count

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The Arizona Senate liaison for the Maricopa County 2020 election audit is threatening to step down if he is denied access to "critical aspects" of the controversial review.

Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state, said he was on the verge of resigning after being blocked last week from entering a facility at the Phoenix state fairgrounds, where Cyber Ninjas is conducting a ballot recount, but reconsidered, at least for now, after speaking with Arizona Senate President Karen Fann.

"I did come on the show today to step aside or step down, whatever you want to call it, as liaison," Bennett told The Conservative Circus host James Harris on radio station 550 KFYI on Monday. "But that may not be what needs to happen."

Bennett said his blockage from entering the audit building happened Friday after he shared sample data from the ballot box counts with election technology analysts Larry Moore and Benny White.

MARICOPA COUNTY AUDIT TEAM SAYS BALLOTS NOT 'AT RISK' FROM WATER LEAK

"I had promised that, you know, information would not be leaked to the press, but it indirectly got done so, and that's how I got barred from the audit," Bennett said, adding, "I remain fully committed to the audit, it is absolutely critical that, as I said earlier, we answer in the minds of people."

Fann said on July 13 that the number of Maricopa County ballots counted by Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to lead the audit, differed from the number tallied by county officials from the 2020 general election. This led to another count of the ballots but not the votes for the contests.

However, the data Bennett provided Moore and White from the third ballot count showed the results from the count closely tracks with the county's tally, the Arizona Republic reported.

Bennett said Monday that assistant liaison Randy Pullen was tasked to handle the third count, noting he told Pullen the recount must be independent from Cyber Ninjas's second recount.

"We've got to keep the third count independent, and we've got to make sure that we aren't forced balancing where they are," Bennett added.

Bennett underscored on Monday he cannot be part of the audit if he is denied access to the third recount.

"I cannot be a part of a process that I am kept out of critical aspects along the way that make the audit legitimate and have integrity when we produce the final report," Bennett said. "And unfortunately, there have been too many of those situations, and the tip of the iceberg came last Friday when I was denied access to the audit itself."

Stephen Richer, the Republican Maricopa County recorder who has echoed similar criticism about the audit as the other members of the Republican-led Maricopa Board of Supervisors, accused Cyber Ninjas of blocking Bennett from the room on Friday.

"The ONE person in the audit with ANY previous high-level involvement with election administration has now been kicked out. Why? Because the new ballot count matched Maricopa County's numbers, not the Ninjas'," Richer tweeted on Friday.

Cyber Ninjas spokesman Rod Thomson told the Arizona Republic on Friday that the order to block Bennett came from Fann's office.

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The Washington Examiner contacted representatives with the Arizona Senate and Thomson but did not immediately receive a response.

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Tags: News, Arizona, Kelli Ward, Arizona Senate, 2020 Elections

Original Author: Kaelan Deese

Original Location: Arizona Senate audit liaison threatens to quit after being denied access to ballot count