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Republican-commissioned hand recount of ballots in Arizona close to concluding; no results expected until later this summer

Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for the Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on May 6.
Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for the Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on May 6. (Matt York/AP)

A widely criticized hand recount of 2020 presidential ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest jurisdiction, is nearing completion, an official associated with the effort said Monday, but results from the process are not expected to be announced until sometime this summer.

The GOP-commissioned review of ballots began in late April, after Arizona’s state Senate seized the ballots and voting machines from the county using a legislative subpoena. Senate President Karen Fann has said the goal of the review is not to overturn President Biden’s win in Arizona but to look for ways to improve future elections. But former president Donald Trump has embraced the process as a path to undoing Biden’s win and called for similar audits to be conducted in other states. In recent weeks, Republican elected officials and candidates from other states who want to capture the enthusiasm of Trump’s base have been trekking to Phoenix to review the process.

Republican officials in Maricopa have decried the process as inept and accused its backers of promoting falsehoods, undermining faith in elections and defaming election workers. The review is being run by a Florida firm whose chief executive has previously endorsed Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen.

In a text message, audit spokesman Ken Bennett said workers will largely complete the hand recount of the county’s nearly 2.1 million ballots on Monday. Workers will continue inspecting the paper on which ballots were printed for the rest of the month. The inspection is an ill-explained process that has at times included shining UV light at ballots. Bennett said no results or conclusions from the audit will be released until a final report comes out later this summer.

Despite those official pledges, Trump allies have been aggressively trading rumors on social media and elsewhere that the recount has identified hundreds of thousands of fewer ballots than were originally reported by the county in November. Bennett called the notion that large numbers of ballots are missing “crazy.”

Also Monday, Arizona Attorney Gen. Mark Brnovich (R) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Gen. Merrick Garland defending the Maricopa ballot review. His letter came after a speech from Garland Friday in which the attorney general alluded to jurisdictions that “based on disinformation, have utilized abnormal post-election audit methodologies that may put the integrity of the voting process at risk and undermine public confidence in our democracy.”

In his letter, Brnovich — who announced last week that he is running for U.S. Senate — called Garland’s comments “troubling” and alleged they showed “an alarming disdain for state sovereignty.” Trump had previously criticized Brnovich for not more vocally defending the audit.

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