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Senate eyes Veterans Memorial Coliseum as election audit location

By: - April 7, 2021 5:39 pm

Photo by Marine 69-71 | Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The Arizona Senate may have found a home for the 2.1 million ballots it plans to recount as part of its audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is serving as a liaison between Senate President Karen Fann and the vendors she’s selected for the audit, told the Arizona Mirror that the plan isn’t final, but that it’s the top option being considered. He said the Senate is working with Arizona Exposition and State Fair and that they hope to begin work on the audit in a couple weeks.

“I think we’re going to be at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The ballots will be delivered there,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the Senate would be responsible for providing security at the facility, including round-the-clock video surveillance. The stadium opened in 1965 and served as the home of the Phoenix Suns from 1968 until 1992, when the team moved to a more modern facility in downtown Phoenix. It is now primarily used to host concerts as part of the Arizona State Fair, though it has also been the site of political rallies in recent years, including a Donald Trump rally in February 2020.

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Since a judge ruled that the Senate has legal authority to subpoena the ballots, tabulation and other machines from the 2020 general election, Fann and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors have feuded over where the ballots will be stored and the audit will be conducted. 

Shortly after the judge’s ruling, the supervisors had the ballots loaded onto a truck for delivery, but Fann hadn’t arranged for a place to store them. Fann, R-Prescott, said she had hoped to use the county’s facilities, where the ballots are currently stored, but the supervisors rejected the idea.

Jack Sellers, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, again turned down a request by Fann to use the county’s facilities last week after the Senate president announced her audit team. Sellers also said the county will not answer questions for the Senate’s auditors or assist with the audit in any way.

“To avoid any confusion, I want to be clear that the audit is not a joint effort between the County and the Senate Republican Caucus,” Sellers told Fann in an email.

Fann’s audit team will be led by a Florida-based cybersecurity company called Cyber Ninjas, a decision that election officials and others found concerning due to company owner Doug Logan’s frequent promotion of false and baseless conspiracy theories alleging that the 2020 election was rigged against former President Donald Trump, his role in a lawsuit alleging fraud in Antrim Count, Mich., and because the company appears to have no experience working on election-related matters.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”