Ken Bennett, Senate liaison to the Maricopa County, Arizona, election audit, said that auditors were informed by county election workers that the signature verification standards for mail-in ballots were at first lowered and ultimately disregarded for November’s races.
County election officials have denied the allegation.
Bennett stated in a Friday interview with The Western Journal, “We’ve literally been told by people who worked in that process for Maricopa County that the standard at the beginning was quite reasonable and high.”
Originally absentee ballot reviewers looked for 20 points in signatures such as the angle of the letters, or how T’s are crossed or how I’s dotted, the former Arizona secretary of state said.
“But they got so far behind, we’ve been told that they went to the people on that team, 40-some people, and said, ‘OK, reduce it to 10’ and then to five and then one,” he explained.
“And then we’re told, and I can hardly believe that this might have been the case, but it needs to be verified. We’re told they finally told them, ‘Let everything go through, including blank signature boxes.’ If that happened, that is a terrible failure,” Bennett added.
The audit team will review all the envelopments used for mail-in ballots, so they will be able to determine if the claims that the signature requirements not being followed are true.
Ninety percent of Maricopa County voters voted by mail, Bennett said.
“If there’s thousands or hundreds or tens of thousands or whatever of envelopes that did not have signatures at all, which is what some people have told us happened, that would be a huge failure by the county, because state law clearly says that an envelope containing a ballot has to have a signature in that affidavit box that reasonably resembles the voter who is attesting with that signature, that that’s their ballot inside.”
The auditors will not be able to match envelopes with no signature, if they exist, to ballots, but it would serve as an indication of how carefully other election laws may have been followed.
The county pushed back strongly against the charge that it failed to follow the law relating to signature verification.
“At no point during the 2020 election cycle did Maricopa County modify the rigorous signature verification requirements. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically false,” Maricopa County Recorder’s Office spokesman Darron Moffatt said in an emailed statement to The Western Journal.
Bennett said the audit team’s first order of business has been confirming through a hand count that the overall tally in Maricopa County matches what the Dominion Voting Systems machines recorded.
With the hand count wrapping up last week, the audit’s attention has shifted to completing an examination of the ballots themselves for abnormalities using high-resolution cameras that allow a microscopic review.
WA State visiting the Arizona Audit pic.twitter.com/ggpN6RNXXT
— Christina Bobb (@christina_bobb) June 21, 2021
Some of the issues auditors are looking at include the authenticity of the paper itself and whether the ovals were filled in by hand or machine, Bennett said. They will also look to see whether the ballots were printed, as the official ones are, or photocopied.
Additionally, official ballots all have alignment marks on the front and back that should match up.
Further, approximately 1.9 million voters in Maricopa County received their ballots in the mail, so that number should all have fold lines.
Bennett noted just how narrow Biden’s win over Trump was in Arizona: Just 0.3 percent, or approximately 10,500 votes, made the difference.
Asked if he could say whether the hand count has yielded a number that more or less jibes with the official November count in Maricopa County, Bennett answered he could not yet.
“We can’t say, because we are now going through the very meticulous process of double and triple-checking every tally sheet that’s been counted over the last two months,” he said, but added the spreadsheets with those numbers will all be made public.
“The auditors recognize that the scrutiny on their work is going to make the scrutiny on the election look like [a] cakewalk,” Bennett stated.
He anticipates that the paper evaluation will be completed by the end of the month.
At our current rate of examining over 100k ballots per day, we will complete the paper examination phase of the audit by Saturday, June 26.
— Maricopa Arizona Audit (@ArizonaAudit) June 16, 2021
“So I think we’ve got a few to several weeks of work on other aspects of the audit that the two that have been working on here, that the subcontractor that’s looking at the machines and all of the data that was downloaded from the machines and the hard drives are still looking at all of that,” Bennett said.
He believes a report of the findings may be out as early as the end of July, but could be as late as Labor Day.
“I think Arizona wins either way,” Bennett contended. “If we find that the election was run very smoothly and complied with all of the rules and requirements in state law, then good for Arizona. We win. But if we find other things that are weaknesses and need to be improved before the next election in 2022 or the presidential in 2024, then we get those things fixed, and we win there too.”
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