PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from previous coverage of the Arizona ballot count.
Arizona Senate Republicans’ hand recount of all 2.1 million Maricopa County election ballots should be done by the end of this week, but the 2020 election review will still be far from over.
The six-week-old recount at Veterans Memorial Coliseum is the most visible piece of the partisan audit.
The lead contractors’ agreement with Senate President Karen Fann had estimated the recount would be done within about two weeks, by mid-May.
“The counting will be done by the end of this week and then the resources will shift to the paper evaluation,” Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett told media pool reporters Tuesday. “That may still take most of the rest of this month.”
What is 'paper evaluation'?
Bennett said the “paper evaluation” involves a review of the ballot paper for irregular folds, signs that a machine filled out the ballot, or differences between ballots sent by mail and those filled out in-person at a Vote Center.
“All kinds of characteristics about the ballot that confirm or question their authenticity,” Bennett said.
These questions about the ballots have been raised by conspiracy theorists, without any apparent basis in fact.
For those watching livestreamed cameras from the audit, the ballot examiners should fill up the black tables on Camera 6.
The bamboo theory
One of the leaders of the partisan audit revealed in early May that examiners were looking for bamboo in the ballot paper, in connection with a conspiracy theory involving ballot paper shipped to Arizona from Asia.
The ballot examination procedures were outlined by Wake TSI, the former ballot-recount contractor, in documents released at the end of April.
The release came after a judge ruled that lead contractor Cyber Ninjas couldn’t keep the documents secret.
Bennett said the ballot examination should be done by the end of June. At the same time, he said, examiners will review signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes to ensure they were signed by all voters.
Final report still weeks away
A final report on the Senate Republicans’ election review is expected in late July or August, according to a timetable from audit media coordinator Randy Pullen.
Seven months after the November election, the audit won't overturn the results of the presidential or U.S. Senate votes in Arizona.
Joe Biden was the first Democratic presidential nominee in 72 years to win Maricopa County, which accounts for more than 6 in every 10 votes in Arizona.
Democrat Mark Kelly’s victory in the U.S. Senate race gave Democrats control of both Arizona Senate seats for the first time in 68 years.
Those election results have been certified under state law and supported by Maricopa County audits.
The Senate Republicans’ audit grew out of GOP lawmakers’ attempt after the November election to overturn the results in Arizona.
Tour stop for GOP lawmakers
The partisan audit, crafted by Senate President Karen Fann, is led and funded by people who have promoted falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
The recount at the coliseum has been a tour stop for Republican lawmakers from several states.
For Trump supporters, the partisan Arizona audit has become a rallying cry nationwide as the “first domino” that could fall in a far-fetched scheme to return Trump to office.
Trump has said he expects to be “reinstated” in August.
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