County still refusing demand by Arizona Senate on election
PHOENIX - The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is again refusing to buckle to pressure from Republicans who control the Arizona Senate and turn over elections equipment and ballots from November's general election.
The Republican-dominated board on Tuesday let a noon deadline for complying with a Senate subpoena pass without acting after hearing from their attorneys. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Warren Peterson, warned of “serious legal consequences” if the board continues to drag its feet.
Peterson tweeted that the Senate was drafting a contempt resolution against the board for failing to comply with the subpoena. It would take a majority vote of the Senate for that resolution to pass. Republicans hold 16 or 30 seats, but it is unclear if Peterson has enough votes.
Tuesday's developments come as the Senate and board remain stuck in a standoff prompted by President Joe Biden's victory in the state and former President Donald Trump's unfounded claims of voter fraud that some Republicans have embraced. The Senate says it wants to inspect the ballots and equipment to find out if there is any merit to the fraud claims.
County supervisors have stood by the election results, which they say have been checked and rechecked through processes required under laws enacted by the Legislature. Nevertheless, the board voted last week to hire two certified auditing firms to audit the results, saying a full audit may help dispel what members called “disinformation” about their accuracy.
Auditors will perform “a multi-layered review that dives into the tabulation equipment’s software and hardware,” analyze hacking vulnerability, verify that no malicous software was loaded onto the machines and that they were never connected to the internet.
The first audit began Tuesday morning.
Senate President Karen Fann said she is not satisfied and has hired her own “qualified” firm to do an audit. She has not announced the name of the firm, and the county has said it hired the only two companies certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission to check voting machines.
Board spokesman Fields Moseley said there is no legal mechanism to do a recount or turn over the 2.1 million ballots to the Senate without a court order.
“The Board will not violate people’s trust by handing over the ballots that are under seal,” Moseley said in a statement. He noted that the Senate has not said who they intend to hire for their audit, and the board has said it cannot allow non-certified people access its machines without compromising their security.
“The board will continue to communicate with the Senate representative while conducting their own audits to restore voter confidence in our elections process,” Moseley said.
The Senate first issued subpoenas in mid-December and the board fought them in court. After the new Legislature was seated early in January, new subpoenas were issued.