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REFILE-Auditors halt plans to knock on Arizona voters' doors amid Justice Department scrutiny

·2 min read

(Fixes typo in word 'lawmakers' in first paragraph)

By Jan Wolfe

May 8 (Reuters) - Arizona lawmakers have halted plans to knock on voters' doors as part of an ongoing audit of ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election, handing an apparent victory to U.S. Justice Department officials who voiced concerns about potential voter intimidation.

In a letter to the Justice Department on Friday, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said the state's senate had “indefinitely" deferred that component of an ongoing audit of ballots in Maricopa County, one of the most populous counties in the U.S.

The decision, which had not previously been announced, came two days after Fann received a letter from a Justice Department official asking her to explain what steps she has taken to ensure the election audit does not violate federal civil rights laws.

Pamela Karlan, the principal deputy assistant attorney general with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, wrote in the letter that door-to-door canvassing may violate federal law.

"Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act," Karlan wrote in her letter. "Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future."

Fann responded in her letter that Arizona's lawmakers "share your commitment to protecting the integrity of election materials and safeguarding the constitutional rights of all Arizona voters."

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, flipped Arizona by a margin of just over 10,000 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast statewide.

Last month, the Republican-controlled state Senate ordered an audit of roughly 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, where about 62 percent of Arizona's population resides.

Arizona’s election results have already certified, and this review will not change them, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs's office has said. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe Editing by Alistair Bell)