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Arizona Dems file suit to stop Senate audit of Maricopa County election

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Elections Department)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Thursday aimed at halting the state Senate audit of 2020 election results in Maricopa County.

The suit, brought forward by Maricopa County supervisor Steve Gallardo, alleges the audit is led by partisan contractors hired by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Gallardo, the lone Democrat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said he was also concerned about ballot security and confidentiality.

“The sole reason for this lawsuit and injunctions is to protect the sanctity of the ballots and more importantly to preserve voters’ privacy from a sham audit that has been corrupted by agitators and conspiracy theorists,” Gallardo said in a tweet.

“This corrupted process will not be transparent, dark money influencers have hand-picked the folks to observe and witness the ‘audit’ that will be conducted by an uncertified and unqualified group.”

The suit calls for a temporary restraining order to prevent the audit, which was scheduled to start after the 2.1 million ballots were carted to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday.

It’s the latest disagreement leaders have had regarding the Senate audit, which isn’t the first to take place in Arizona following Democrat Joe Biden’s win in November.

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors denied use of their facilities after losing a court fight set off by a Senate subpoena for the election materials.

They insist the election Biden won was conducted fairly and counted accurately. Senate Democrats oppose the effort to recount the ballots of the long ago certified election and have said they won’t participate.

The operation will be live-streamed by the pro-Trump, right-wing television network OANN, which helped raise some of the money used to finance the audit and recount.

Republican Senate President Karen Fann has hired Florida-based Cyber Ninjas — a firm led by a backer of unfounded election fraud theories — to oversee the audit, including a hand recount of ballots. The Senate is paying $150,000, and an OANN host helped raise at least another $150,000 for the effort.

The Senate will pay only for electricity and personnel at the Coliseum, which it rented starting Monday for four weeks. It also must provide security.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump have cast doubt on the Maricopa County election results since Biden’s narrow win last year. But there has been no evidence of widespread fraud. Judges rejected several lawsuits alleging irregularities in the count.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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