Maricopa County asks court to quash Senate subpoena over 2020 election ballots

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors asked a court Feb. 5 to quash a state Senate subpoena that seeks access to 2.1 million ballots from November’s election and access to its elections equipment, calling the effort by the Senate a sham.

The move comes as the Republican-controlled Senate is poised as early as Monday to find the five members of the GOP-dominated Board in contempt. They would then be subject to arrest and could conceivably be jailed until the end of the legislative session.

The developments follow Senate efforts to continue pushing reviews prompted by the many Republicans who subscribe to unfounded claims that President Joe Biden won Arizona because of problems with vote counting. GOP senators say they’re just trying to boost voter confidence in elections.

The board has already turned over a massive amount of data requested by the Senate as it seeks to perform an outside audit of the election that saw former President Donald Trump lose in the state. Republicans continue to raise unfounded claims of potential fraud or miscounts, which were rejected by a series of Arizona courts, including the state Supreme Court.

The supervisors say in their court filing that while they respect the power of the Legislature to issue subpoenas and have provided much of the information lawmakers seek, it would be illegal to turn over the ballots, and allowing access to voting machines by unqualified personnel would render them useless in future elections.

And they say board Chairman Jack Sellers complied with the subpoena asking him to appear at a Jan. 13 hearing with less that 24 hours notice last month, but no hearing was scheduled.

RELATED: Maricopa County still refusing demand by Arizona Senate on election

"This case is about the limited power of the Arizona Senate to issue a subpoena commanding the presence of a witness at a hearing that does not exist, commanding the production of 2.1 million voted, secret ballots in violation of Arizona statute, and commanding the inspection of certified elections equipment by a team of uncertified laymen who have demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge about election processes and election security," the county’s court filing says.

Republican Senate President Karen Fann announced last week that she had hired a firm to conduct an audit of the county’s elections, but has since said she has not hired an auditor. But correspondence between Fann’s lawyer and the county show Fann is proposing to use a firm with strong connections to the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn election results in multiple battleground states to do its audit.

The Allied Security Operations Group worked with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to raise baseless allegations of election fraud and counting errors in Arizona and other states. The documents outline the work the company would do for the Senate if they are allowed access to ballots and election equipment, including recounting at least 550,000 ballots and collecting "forensic images" of software used in ballot counting machines.

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 Fann in court. Still, the county is conducting two new voting machine audits.

Fann said Thursday that arresting the supervisors isn’t the only option if the resolution passes.

"First and foremost, the supervisors could pick up the phone and say you’re right, let’s get a third independent (auditor) and do that," Fann said.

She listed other options, such as going again to court or asking the attorney general to intervene.

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Months after the election, audit wrangle pits Republicans against Republicans in Arizona

Republicans who control the Arizona Senate voted to fast-track a resolution finding Maricopa County in contempt for failing to turn over elections equipment and ballots cast in the November election as a subpoena demanded.