Maricopa County to fight Legislature’s election records ask

Dec 18, 2020, 5:00 PM
FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, Maricopa County elections officials count ballots in Phoen...

FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, Maricopa County elections officials count ballots in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to fight a sweeping subpoena issued by the state Senate seeking a raft of data and copies of all mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 3 election that saw Democrat Joe Biden win the majority of votes in the county.

The five-member board dominated by Republicans voted 4-1 to file a court complaint seeking clarification about whether the county must comply with the subpoena. Republican Board Chairman Clint Hickman said the subpoena issued Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee sought records that the Legislature itself has deemed to be private.

“I believe these subpoenas are unrealistic in their timeframes, an intrusion into the privacy of our voters and want us to disregard the very statutes they created,” Hickman said. “There are real constitutional issues with these subpoenas. I look forward to when we can get some clarification from the courts.”

Republican board member Bill Gates went further, saying the breadth of information sought by the GOP-controlled Legislature was “truly extraordinary.”

“And let’s be clear what they’re looking for – as a conservative I feel strongly about individual private information … of voters, and that information has been requested in these subpoenas,” Gates said. “I’m going to fight to protect that information before we turn it over.”

Only GOP board member Steve Chucri voted against fighting the subpoena, but only because he simultaneously wanted to initiate a forensic audit of the county election systems, another measure the subpoena demanded. The county has said it can’t do that while there is still litigation being pursued by backers of President Donald Trump active in the courts, but board members have repeatedly promised the audit once litigation ends.

The subpoena was issued after the Judiciary Committee held a six-hour hearing into how Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, ran its election. Hickman, the county’s top election attorney and one of its lead elections officials testified. At the end of the hearing, Republican Sen. Eddie Farnsworth said he would issue subpoenas demanding a full forensic audit of ballot tabulation machines and software and to collect images of all mail ballots, including lists of voters, their addresses, how and where they voted and much more.

Messages seeking comment from Farnsworth or GOP Senate President Karen Fann weren’t immediately returned.

No evidence of widespread voter or election fraud has emerged in Arizona, which has seen eight lawsuits challenging the results of the state’s presidential vote fail. Claims of sweeping voting irregularities made by Trump backers in Arizona and several other battleground states have mainly been rejected.

Appeals are ongoing in one case in state court. On Friday, a woman whose lawsuit seeking to decertify President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Arizona was dismissed by a judge filed an appeal with the Arizona Supreme Court Friday.

Supreme Court spokesman Aaron Nash said the court did not immediately schedule a hearing on the appeal filed by Staci Burk, a non-lawyer representing herself.

Pinal County Judge Kevin White ruled Tuesday that Burk lacked standing to contest the election because she wasn’t a registered voter when she filed her lawsuit and that she filed it after the five-day filing period had passed.

Burk’s lawsuit was nearly identical to a lawsuit dismissed last week in federal court in Phoenix.

Burk’s lawsuit alleged Arizona’s election systems have security flaws that let election workers and foreign countries manipulate results. Opposing attorneys said the lawsuit used conspiracy theories to make allegations against a voting equipment vendor without any proof to back up claims of widespread election fraud in Arizona.

Associated Press reporter Paul Davenport contributed to this report.

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Maricopa County to fight Legislature’s election records ask