Maricopa County supervisors tell Arizona Senate to butt out of election audit

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors did not obey subpoenas from the Arizona Senate ordering them to deliver election-related materials before 5 p.m. Friday.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to file a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court on Friday, claiming the subpoenas are unlawful. One lone supervisor, Steve Chucri, cast the opposing vote.

Senate Republicans served subpoenas to the supervisors Tuesday demanding access to copies of the more than 2 million ballots cast by Maricopa County voters during the 2020 general election and other election-related records logs and reports.

The subpoenas also call for access to the equipment used to tabulate those ballots and the software that ran the equipment for “forensic analysis.”

The subpoenas were issued after a six-hour hearing of the Judiciary Committee on Monday, Dec. 14, where lawmakers raised concerns about the conduct of the election.

County officials were told to deliver the requested information to Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, before 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18.

 Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, a Republican, alleged that the state Legislature’s demands were too broad; violate voters’ privacy by contravening Arizona laws for ballot secrecy and access to ballots and did not provide sufficient time for them to comply.

The supervisors also dispute the Senate Judiciary Committee’s right to issue them and asked the court to throw them out. They complained that the subpoenas are “a draconian abuse of power.”

The court complaint says that the subpoenas are invalid because the state Legislature only has the right to subpoena in certain instances.

That includes if the subpoena is authorized by ordinance or similar enactment, if it serves a valid legislative purpose, and if the witnesses or material subpoenaed are pertinent to the subject matter of an investigation.

None of these are the case, according to the complaint. The subpoenas are not authorized by any statute or other law, there is no legislative authority to audit election results, examine ballots, or conduct elections, and there is no relevant investigation, the complaint asserts.

One of the subpoenas asked for voter information, including voters’ date of birth, address, party affiliation and other related information.

Supervisor Bill Gates said that, as a conservative, he believes in protecting this voter information.

“I’m going to fight to protect that information,” Gates said.

The complaint also states that turning over the ballots and ballot images to the committee “unquestionably compromises the secrecy of the ballots,” required under state law, and violates the state law that requires the county to keep the ballots “in a secure facility managed by the treasurer, who shall keep it unopened and unaltered,” for a certain time frame.

Farnsworth said he expects the county to provide full access to auditors so they can examine the equipment and programming.

Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said she expects the county to conduct an audit of the election results but if it does not, the Senate would conduct its own.

“The goal is to verify the machines did what they are supposed to do,” Fann said.

Supervisor Steve Gallardo, the only Democrat on the board, called the subpoenas a political circus.

“I’m not interested in a political sideshow,” Gallardo said.