PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - No matter how much progress has been made in the audit by May 14, it's not going to continue taking place on the main floor of Veterans Memorial Coliseum. That's because starting the weekend of the 15th, several Phoenix high schools have their graduation ceremonies taking place at the Coliseum.
As for what that means for the audit's deadline, it's still up in the air. "We have to be away for a few days," says Senate audit liaison Ken Bennett. "We can come back after that for as long as we need."
With those words, Bennett is acknowledging that these graduation ceremonies are happening at the Coliseum. But that isn't going to stop the audit. "If we're not done, there are other parts of the Coliseum that we can move to temporarily and keep right on going if we have to," says Bennett.
But what does that mean for the graduations? Stephanie Parra, a governing board member of the Phoenix Union School District, remains adamant that those graduating will still get the experience they're expecting. "Our district has a long-standing contract in place with the Coliseum for graduations. This year, we will not allow the celebration of our students' achievements to be disrupted once again," says Parra. "Our students, their families, and our educators deserve to be honored for enduring and preserving during the most challenging of times."
Whether the audit is temporarily halted or moved to another location in the coliseum, the plan is for the recount to pick up speed when it resumes Monday. "Right now, there are two five-hour shifts a day, and considering a third. And fourth if necessary," says Bennett. "If we go to three shifts instead of two, we will have magnified our capacity exponentially."
In a conversation with political editor Dennis Welch during this week's Politics Unplugged, Arizona Capital Times reporter Dillon Rosenblatt wasn't confident that additional shifts for ballot counters will mean the audit's completion in the next couple of weeks. "Without knowing how many ballots they've counted to this point, we honestly don't know," says Rosenblatt. "And it doesn't seem like they'll be able to count all 2.1 million ballots before they have to leave the venue."