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Arizona Senate votes to not hold Maricopa County board in contempt

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — In a surprise move Monday, the Arizona Senate voted to not hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt for failing to turn over voting machines and ballots from the November election.

The vote was expected to pass with a Republican majority, but GOP Rep. Paul Boyer voted against the resolution, evening the tallies at 15 each and killing the resolution.

If the vote would have passed, the five-member board consisting of just one Democrat could have been subject to immediate arrest.

“Ultimately, today’s vote to reject the resolution provides more time for us to work together for the sole purpose of gaining more clarity,” Boyer said in a statement. “It is NOT a final determination, nor is it the end of the process.

“My vote is about patience. It’s about resolving disagreements civilly, and these are things that I believe all Senators can agree upon regardless of our respective votes today.”

The Senate has been trying since mid-December to get access to ballots and other materials so they can do their own audit of the election results. They are prompted in part 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 said in Friday’s 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.

Senate President Karen Fann issued a statement Monday morning slamming supervisors for their lawsuit.

“This new lawsuit is filled with a mischaracterization of facts to gain advantage with the courts and the media,” Fann said. “Instead of making efforts to reach a resolution, the county is trying to score points.”

Fann announced on Jan. 29 that she had hired a firm to conduct an audit of the county’s elections, but has since backtracked and said she has not hired an auditor. But correspondence between Fann’s lawyer and the county shows that 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 the review, with oversight from another firm.

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 board 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.

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