Arizona’s state Senate is turning up the heat on Maricopa County officials who refused to comply with a subpoena demanding they hand over election equipment.
In December, the Arizona state Senate’s Judiciary Committee voted to issue subpoenas and seize images of mail-in ballots, detailed voter information and machines made by Dominion Voting Systems that were used in Maricopa County.
At the time, senators said it would be a way to lay to rest any concerns about the integrity of the election amid unproven claims that the machines could be targets for ballot manipulation, but the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors refused.
The issue lay largely dormant through January, as the high tide of allegations about the machines receded in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion. The state and county went back and forth over terms of an audit, and the county said it would audit its system, but not the November election results.
On Friday, state Senate President Karen Fann said the Senate would hire its own firm to audit the results of the November election, saying that the audit Maricopa County agreed to do was insufficient, according to the Arizona Republic.
“[T]he scope of the audit must be broader than the one proposed by the County’s vendors,” Fann said in a statement.
“Our firm will perform everything we have required in the subpoenas. We must bring back confidence that the election results reported are how votes were legally cast. The Senate’s forensic audit will bring accuracy and detail to the process, and with that restore integrity to the election process,” she said.
The duel over the election escalated Thursday when the Republican-controlled state Senate moved to take swift legislative action against the county to find it in contempt, according to KSAZ-TV.
By a 16-13 party-line vote, the Senate waived the usual process of full debates and committee hearings so that a vote could take place as soon as Monday on a proposal to take “all legal action” to enforce the subpoenas.
The legislation cites an Arizona law allowing the Senate’s sergeant at arms to arrest anyone disobeying a legislative subpoena, according to the Arizona Republic.
Republicans have said they are not calling for a reversal of the election results, but have said their effort is necessary to restore confidence in the election process.
Fann said the issue of election integrity is “not going away.”
“We have tens of thousands of voters who have questions about the county’s election. Whether they’re founded or unfounded, I don’t know. We as a Senate body have an obligation to our constituents to get answers to their questions,” Fann said.
“What we are trying is to prove to the voters of Maricopa County that they can trust and count on their election process,” Republican state Sen. Rick Gray said during the vote, according to KSAZ. “I think that is reasonable. I think that is necessary.”
In response to the Senate action, the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to go to court to “protect the integrity of the electoral process and the privacy of the ballots and of the voters of Maricopa county in the courts.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers said the county is unable to comply.
“It is our understanding that state law prohibits the release of the ballots once they have been sealed,” Sellers said in a statement, according to the Arizona Republic. “There is nothing prohibiting the Senate and their lawyers from going into a courtroom and explaining to a judge why the Board should disregard state law and allow access to people’s ballots and personal information.”
According to KSAZ, Republican state Sen. Sonny Borrelli said the issue is not just about the election, but the respect due to the Arizona Senate.
“This is a challenge, a direct challenge to your authority, to this body. And I’m really surprised you that you don’t recognize this and you’re making it a partisan issue. We have a political subdivision literally spitting in the face of the state Senate,” he said.
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