A Recap in the Last Days of the Arizona Audit: Mainstream Media Meddling and ‘Blue Pen Jen’

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PHOENIX, Arizona – The most eventful aspect of the Arizona audit appears to have had nothing to do with the audit itself – rather, it was antics from the mainstream media who came to cover it. Officials recounted to The Arizona Sun Times one incident in which several reporters left their designated seating, returned to the entryway, propped open the doors, and took pictures. Later, those reporters published stories claiming that the doors were left wide open during the audit.

After that, The Sun Times was told, officials had to direct some of the Arizona Rangers serving as security to escort media and ensure they didn’t roam freely.

One reporter in particular came to be known by workers as “Blue Pen Jen.” That nickname quickly became synonymous with media members hostile to the ongoing audit and its officials. “Blue Pen Jen” was Jen Fifield of The Arizona Republic, who signed up as a volunteer observer when the audit first began because media wasn’t granted access immediately. The Sun Times was told that Fifield only disrupted the training by attempting to interview other workers and officials.

At one point during that first day of training, Fifield took note of the blue pens used. During her breaks, she would post updates on the audit; she alluded in one tweet that some volunteers could use the blue pens to mark the ballots being audited.

“I noticed the counters had blue pens. Supposed to only have red when you’re around ballots since ballots can read black and blue ink. Those blue pens the counters have could potentially be used to mark the ballots. I pointed this out to Doug Logan with Cyber Ninjas…” wrote Fifield. “Doug is running this audit. He told me that his understanding was the blue ink was fine – that the ballots only read black ink. Then he came back and said actually it seems I am correct. But he still seemed unsure. He said that they would work on this.”

Only later that afternoon, hours after the tweet went viral, did Fifield publish an update that officials switched out the pens to the green and red pens long before the “actual real ballots were out on the floor.” Officials confirmed to The Sun Times that it was made clear that blue pens were for training purposes only, and that none of the real ballots were taken out from the locked cages.

Randy Pullen, a former chairman of Arizona’s GOP serving as a volunteer consultant to the Arizona Senate, sat down in an interview at the audit site with The Sun Times to discuss their months of work. He shared that they would likely be finished by Saturday. Pullen said that they’ve averaged over 125,000 ballots a day at this point.

Pullen shared that it’s taken their workers a while due to the inconsistencies in the ballot batches. With each inconsistency, the workers must flag the legal counsel and officials to document the issue.

“Originally, what the counties said was that each batch was in plastic bags. Then, [we] discovered that each batch has only pink sheets [batch sheets] between them. Or, the pink sheets are stacked together on top of all the ballots. Those [ballots] are counted, but there’s no identifiable way to determine which batch they are a part of,” said Pullen. “Everything is legally documented. If everything is perfect, then there’s no problem. But here’s what happens: the batch sheet says there are 200 [ballots] but there’s only 190. Then legal counsel has to document that there’s only 190.”

The painstaking lengths to document each inconsistency prevent claims that the auditors made errors.

When asked when the company in charge of the audit, Cyber Ninjas, would finish their analysis, Pullen estimated the end of July at the earliest. The only problem, he said, concerns the tabulating machines and routers. Auditors don’t have access to those yet because election officials won’t turn them over. Pullen said that this presented an issue – especially because election officials reportedly lack the passwords to the tabulators.

“If the county didn’t have access to their administrative side of the tabulators, did they have control of the tabulators?” asked Pullen. “Did Dominion? Or someone else?”

Pullen is not only a longtime leader within Arizona’s Republican Party. He was previously a partner for Deloitte and Touche, a multinational professional services network that offers premiere auditing services. Based on what he’d witnessed throughout this audit, Pullen told The Sun Times that this audit was as solid as it could be.

“They’re following processes and procedures that are very much in line with what you expect from a standard audit,” stated Pullen.

Once the analysis is finished, Cyber Ninjas will have to write and submit a report to the State Senate. The finalized version of the report won’t appear until the Senate reviews it.

In a word: it may be several months at the earliest before the public learns the results of the audit that’s captured the nation’s interest.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

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