Maricopa County Won’t Appeal Ruling Which Recognizes Senate’s Right To Audit Elections

February 27, 2021

By Terri Jo Neff |

Just hours after a judge slammed the door on their legal challenge to two State Senate subpoenas, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors announced they will not appeal a court order requiring them to comply with the election-related subpoenas.

“Judge [Timothy] Thomason’s ruling brings clarity to whether Senate subpoenas apply to ballots that, per state law, must be kept private following an election; as well as the many other documents and equipment demanded,” Board Chairman Jack Sellers said in a statement. “We respect his legal opinion and will immediately start working to provide the Arizona Senate with the ballots and other materials.

The ruling by Thomason that the subpoenas issued in January “are legal and enforceable” made it clear that the Senate and its soon-to-be-announced auditor must not only be given access to Maricopa County’s electronic voting system -computers, software, tabulators- but also the more than 2 million ballots cast in the 2020 General Election.

“The Subpoenas comply with the statutory requirements for legislative subpoenas,” Thomason wrote in his detailed, 16-page finding. “The Senate also has broad constitutional power to oversee elections. The Arizona legislature clearly has the power to investigate and examine election reform matters. Accordingly, the Senators have the power to subpoena material as part of an inquiry into election reform measures.”

In his statement, Sellers also noted that Maricopa County elections officials have already turned over more than 11GB of election-related data demanded in the two subpoenas issued by Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Chair Warren Petersen. And it didn’t take long for legislators to react to the county’s no-appeal decision.

“County said they needed a court order to comply with the subpoena. They got it,” Petersen tweeted after Thomason’s clerk released the detailed ruling to the parties. “Election integrity wins today.”

News of Thomason’s ruling that the Senate’s subpoenas served a legitimate legislative purpose and did not violate separation of powers principles was also well received by former Sen. Eddie Farnsworth. It was Farnsworth who along with Fann issued two subpoenas back in December that Maricopa County’s five-member board also ignored.

Instead of complying with the Fann / Farnsworth subpoenas, the county board sued the Senate and later decided to do its own post-election audit of the electronic voting system without participation by any of the legally-authorized political party observers.

“It is unfortunate that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ incessant delaying tactics and smoke and mirrors audit in contempt of the legislature’s legal authority has cost Arizona citizens so much time, money, and trust,” Farnsworth said Friday. “Hopefully, the Senate, through a true forensic audit, can restore some confidence in the election system.”

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