An Arizona Republic reporter was escorted from the Arizona election audit site on Friday morning after posting a photo showing a former Republican legislator at a ballot-counting table.
The photo showed a ballot, with no markings discernible, on a vertical stand in front of former state Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale.
The reporter, Ryan Randazzo, was told his press privileges were revoked. He left the building as requested.
Randazzo was observing the audit, along with two other Arizona journalists, as part of an agreement with audit organizers to monitor the proceedings.
Randazzo had spotted Kern tallying votes at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum as part of the unprecedented review ordered by the Arizona Senate.
Organizers argued the photo violated rules on press coverage because a ballot was visible, although nothing on it was legible.
The selection of Kern, a candidate in last year’s election, to work on the recount adds to questions about what has been an opaque and changing process for handling the 2.1 million ballots Maricopa County voters cast in last year’s general election.
Kern, who was defeated in an election bid in November, was active in “Stop the Steal” efforts. He also signed a letter with several other Republican lawmakers urging Congress not to accept the presidential electors selected by Arizona voters. And he was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to speak to a rally outside the U.S. Capitol on the same day a mob stormed the building.
But the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm the Arizona Senate has hired to oversee the process, told reporters last week that workers were screened to ensure “there was nothing on their social media or other details that showed strong opinions one way or another.”
The recount does not include Kern’s race, which he lost. The recount only covers two races Democrats won — the races for president and U.S. Senate.
Arizona journalists have been monitoring the election audit in person since Tuesday afternoon. The participating reporters and photographers pledged not to show images that detail any identifiable ballot information. The audit livestream at the public website azaudit.org, shows ballots, too, as well as the people involved in the counting and observing process.
Journalists made no agreement to avoid photographing participants in the audit process.
“The Arizona Republic never agreed to obscure faces,” Greg Burton, Republic executive editor, said. “The Senate’s own livestream on the floor shows faces of everybody involved. We agreed not to show ballot details, which we have adhered to, but clearly, you can’t take a picture in a room full of ballots without showing ballots at a distance. Anyone looking at the live feed gets the same view.”
This is a developing story. Return to azcentral.com for more updates.