Arizona State Senate to consider contempt charge in election fight

Arizona Legislature (file)

Republicans who control the Arizona Senate are moving ahead with their threat to pass a contempt resolution finding Maricopa County has failed to comply with a subpoena demanding access to elections equipment and ballots cast in the November election.

The Senate Rules committee plans to meet Wednesday afternoon to start the procedure for introducing the resolution. Timing on a full Senate vote is unclear.

If the resolution passes, board members could be jailed for failing to comply.

The Republican-dominated board on Tuesday again refused to comply with subpoenas GOP lawmakers issued as they try to show that fraud or other election misdeeds led to Democratic President Joe Biden’s win in the state. Courts rejected eight lawsuits filed by backers of former President Donald Trump after his loss, finding there was no evidence that he did not lose.

The Senate has demanded access to voting machines and all 2.1 million ballots cast in the election. The board has said it can’t comply because ballots are sealed by law and the voting machines the Senate wants to examine need to remain secure.

Board Chairman Jack Sellers said Wednesday he was frustrated that the Senate was threatening to find the board in contempt, saying he met personally with Senate President Karen Fann and thought both sides agreed to try to settle the issue.

"I want to be clear: the county will participate in any court hearing with the Senate if they plan to argue the restrictions on ballots should be waived," Sellers said in a statement. "Instead of suggesting that we are violating the laws the Legislature wrote, they should turn their attention to finding a solution.

"If they truly believe in the legality of their position, they will join us in seeking a solution through the courts," Sellers said.

The supervisors have repeatedly pointed to multiple tests of the voting machines done before and after the election and hand counts of a sample of ballots that showed the count was accurate. They fought subpoenas issued in December by the Senate Judiciary Committee with the backing of Senate President Karen Fann in court.

New subpoenas were issued after a new Legislature was sworn in on Jan. 11. No new proceedings have been initiated by either side.

Still, the board voted last week to do their own audits, checking to determine if the software in voting machines is intact and they were not subject to hacking or connected to the internet.

Republican Sen. Warren Peterson said that audit falls far short of what lawmakers want examined.

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news

For the latest local news, download the FOX 10 News app.

Sign up for FOX 10 email alerts, newsletters