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Ken Bennett hits the road in support of the Arizona audit

Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett is out supporting the Arizona Senate’s so-called audit on a statewide tour hosted by his one-time employer — an organization that’s also fundraising to support its own searches for “illegal” votes.

The series of town hall style events, dubbed the “What Happened At The Audit” tour, kicked off Tuesday night in Tucson, with Bennett preaching the values of the controversial election review ordered by Republicans in the Arizona Senate. 

Bennett, who served as a liaison between Senate leaders and their contractors, declared the review a success — a stance not appreciated by some in attendance, who during a question and answer portion of the town hall said they remain convinced the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Yet while Bennett was there to repeat what some Trump supporters can’t accept —  the hand recount of nearly 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County hewed closely to the official tally of results — he also insisted on the need for more “audits.”

“If I learned anything from the audit, it is that we need to be able to audit the elections within 10 days after the election, not 10 months,” Bennett said. “We need to be able to audit elections before they are certified.”

Most counties already audit the elections in accordance with state law, with a hand count of a random sampling of ballots days after the election to confirm the accuracy of machine counts of paper ballots. Logic and accuracy tests of the machines are also conducted before and after elections.

Republicans like Bennett, while defending the efficacy of the Senate’s widely-criticized election review, have often criticized existing Arizona procedures to ensure the accuracy of an election as ineffective.

On Tuesday, Bennett advocated for the governor to call a special session to “improve” elections. He warned that any laws passed during the next legislative session, beginning in January, won’t take effect until after the 2022 primary elections.

Ducey has already rejected calls for a special session before the end of the year.

Bennett also reminded the audience that the election review technically still isn’t over. Maricopa County supervisors reached an agreement with GOP Senate leaders to have an independent party review the county’s networking systems. 

The town hall ended with a sales pitch from Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign advisor who now runs Look Ahead America. Bennett was hired as the organization’s state chairman, though he’s since told the Arizona Mirror he’s on a hiatus during the election review. 

Braynard encouraged the audience to volunteer their time or money to help the organization conduct its own investigation of Arizona’s election, which he vowed would establish the existence of enough illegal votes to throw the 2020 election results in doubt.

The next event is scheduled for Thursday in Scottsdale, with future stops in Prescott and Lake Havasu City.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.