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Arizona Senate Republicans Extend Lease At Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Audit Continues Through June

By Ben Giles
Published: Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 9:32am
Updated: Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 9:40am

Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
The Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

A controversial review of the 2020 general election returns in Maricopa County will go on a one-week hiatus.

The long-anticipated pause was set in stone on Wednesday, when Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) signed an agreement to extend the Senate’s lease at the Arizona State Fairgrounds through the end of June.

Private firms hired by Fann and Senate Republicans will move nearly 2.1 million ballots and voting equipment out of Veterans Memorial Coliseum and into the Wesley Bolin Building on the fairgrounds, making way for high school graduation ceremonies next week. The Phoenix Union High School District has the coliseum booked the entire week of May 17, an arrangement well known prior to the Senate’s agreement.

Due to high temperatures, officials at the fairgrounds typically don’t recommend the building for use from May through September.

Officials can move the ballots and equipment back into the coliseum on May 23, and resume their audit and hand recount of the ballots on May 24.

The audit site at Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Ben Giles/KJZZ
The audit site at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 22, 2021.

When the review first started in late-April, the firms said they were confident their work would be finished by Friday, when the first rental agreement expires. But it quickly became clear the process was moving at a glacial pace.

At their current pace, it’s unlikely the recount and audit will be complete by the end of June, either.

Critics have warned that the GOP-led audit sets a precedent for partisan election reviews that could be replicated in future Arizona elections and elsewhere, run by firms without election audit and recount experience. Cyber Ninjas in particular has been criticized for a lack of qualification to review the election and for the apparent bias of its CEO, Doug Logan, who’s promoted conspiracies of election fraud on social media.