A judge ruled Friday that Arizona Senate Republicans can have access to Maricopa County’s 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 general election and corresponding voting equipment to perform an audit.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason said that the election-related subpoenas issued by the Arizona Senate are valid and enforceable.
Senate Republicans and the GOP-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors disagreed about the accessibility of the ballots; the Senate wanted to perform an audit to address election integrity concerns from constituents, whereas the board argued the ballots, by law, were to be kept secret for 24 months following the election. The judge scolded the parties for failing to come to an agreement on their own but sided with the Senate, suggesting the law in question does not conflict with the subpoenas.
“There is no question that the Senators have the power to issue legislative subpoenas,” Judge Thomason wrote, according to The Associated Press. “The Subpoenas comply with the statutory requirements for legislative subpoenas. The Senate also has broad constitutional power to oversee elections.”
“The Arizona legislature clearly has the power to investigate and examine election reform matters,” the ruling read. “The Subpoenas also do not violate separation of powers principles. Production of the subpoenaed materials would not violate confidentiality laws.”
Board Chairman Jack Sellers said they will comply with the ruling, adding that he hopes senators “will show the same respect and care we have for the 2.1 million private ballots and use them in service of their legislative duties.”
“We respect his legal opinion and will immediately start working to provide the Arizona Senate with the ballots and other materials,” said a statement from the board chair. “These items are in addition to the more than 11GB of data already provided. We hope senators will show the same respect and care we have for the 2.1 million private ballots and use them in service of their legislative duties.”
Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, said she was thrilled with the ruling, emphasizing that the audit request was never about overturning election results. Maricopa County votes tipped Arizona for now-President Joe Biden during the general election.
“We are thrilled and grateful that the judge was able to see the big picture in this whole issue,” Fann said, the AP reported. “That this has never been about overturning an election. This has always been 100% about voter integrity and finding the answers to all of our voters’ questions about the safety and security and validity of the Arizona electoral system.”
“The county Board of Supervisors has pointed to repeated checks that show the election was free and fair and properly conducted. They also did two additional audits in an effort to mollify the Senate,” the AP report added. “Early this week, they released the results of those new audits of their equipment that showed no malicious software or incorrect counting equipment and that none of the computers or equipment were connected to the internet. Previous reviews and a hand recount of a sample of ballots also found no issues.”
According to Fann, the audits thus far have been incomplete, only reviewing vote counting machines and software. The Senate will now move forward with a full forensic audit.