Arizona Senate Republicans push backup plan in county election fight

Feb 11, 2021, 4:00 PM
Arizona Capitol. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)...
Arizona Capitol. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Senate Republicans who have been battling with Maricopa County to get access to ballots and election equipment from the November election are pushing a backup plan to gain that access in case a court agrees with the county board’s position that the materials are protected.

A Senate committee dominated by Republicans advanced a proposal Thursday that says ballots and election machines are not privileged, confidential or protected from disclosure if the Legislature issues a subpoena. Democrats were opposed.

The Republican-controlled county board has been fighting the Senate’s effort to get access to ballots and election machines since mid-December under a subpoena issued by lawmakers who have questioned President Joe Biden’s win in the state. The board maintains the ballots are secret under law and the state constitution and tabulation machines can’t be compromised by allowing uncertified people to examine them.

The board handed over reams of materials and is doing two audits of their own on the machines to ensure they accurately counted ballots and weren’t hacked.

The Senate fell one vote short of finding the board in contempt on Monday, just days after the county board asked a judge to quash the subpoenas.

GOP Sen. Warren Peterson of Gilbert, who issued the latest subpoenas after taking over as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, said his new proposal is “an insurance policy” in case a judge rules against the Senate.

“They continue to hold the position that we don’t have the authority to investigate and audit the ballots and in this case the equipment,” Peterson said at Tuesday’s hearing on his proposal, SB 1408. “So this makes clear what we already believe is the law.”

Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada called the proposal another effort by Republicans who question former President Donald Trump’s defeat to perpetuate their unfounded claims and question dozens of court rulings nationwide that found no fraud or other issues with the vote.

“I think that’s the big problem here, that there’s a small segment of our population, and a large segment of our elected officials, that are refusing to accept the result of these judicial challenges,” Quezada said. “And that’s the furtherance once again of “The Big Lie”, that there was some sort of election fraud. There wasn’t, at all.”

On Wednesday, the Republican county recorder in Maricopa County issued a detailed defense of the audits the county is holding, saying statements by Peterson and others that the audits fall short are inaccurate. And a county board member leveled a broadside against a GOP senator who accused him and the board during the contempt vote Monday of shifting its positions as it fought the subpoenas and the supervisor as misrepresenting the truth.

“What’s the difference between that and a bald face lie,” Sen. Rick Gray said. “I don’t see a difference.”

GOP Supervisor Clint Hickman was visibly angry at Wednesday’s board meeting as he blasted the senator, who he didn’t name in keeping with Senate tradition of not naming people they are criticizing. Instead, he called Sen. Rick Gray, who blasted Hickman and the board, “Senator Dick.”

“So Dick had some horrible things to say,” Hickman said. “He questioned the honorableness of our board. He questioned my honesty, and he knew he had a microphone to do it, and I don’t possess the kind of microphone he has speaking on a floor speech.”

Hickman went on to say his wife was worried about the family’s security after watching Gray’s comments.

“He lost control,” Hickman said. “It’s almost like Senator Dick lost himself, almost like Dick didn’t know Dick. And that is horrible to me.”

Gray wasn’t immediately available for comment Thursday.

A court has not yet set a hearing on the county’s request to quash the senate subpoenas.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(El Mirage Police Department Video Screenshot)...
SuElen Rivera

El Mirage police release video of elementary school lockdown

The El Mirage Police Department on Tuesday released body-worn camera footage of an elementary school lockdown where three people were arrested last week. 
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Phoenix man gets 25 years in prison for sexual abuse of a child

A Phoenix man last week was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a child.
1 day ago
Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at an event touting a new universal school voucher progra...
Associated Press

Gov. Doug Ducey takes victory lap over Arizona school voucher plan

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and backers of universal school vouchers took a victory lap Tuesday over legislation the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted in June.
1 day ago
(Twitter Photo/@DougDucey)...

Here’s why a portion of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s new border wall was temporarily knocked over

Within days of announcing action to fill in border wall gaps near Yuma, a portion of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's new barrier was temporarily knocked over Monday morning. Here's the explanation from the governor's office.
1 day ago
(Twitter Photo/@MaricopaVote)...
Kevin Stone

3-vote margin triggers automatic recount in Maricopa County primary race

One race in the Maricopa County’s recent primary election was so close that it triggered an automatic recount under state law.
1 day ago
(Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Newsmakers)...
Associated Press

Battles rage in Arizona courts over 3 voter initiatives

Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures last month to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Arizona Senate Republicans push backup plan in county election fight