Senate announces election audit agreement, but Maricopa County says there isn’t one

By: - January 20, 2021 12:19 pm

Image by Nick Youngson | Alpha Stock Images/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Arizona Senate on Wednesday announced that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday agreed to drop its legal fight challenging sweeping subpoenas for voting machines, ballots and other election materials that the Arizona Senate issued and will instead turn over the requested items so lawmakers can conduct an audit of Joe Biden’s win in the November election.

But hours later, the county said no agreement was in place and that negotiations were ongoing.

“The Board of Supervisors through its legal team continues to negotiate in good faith with the representatives of the Arizona State Senate President,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers said in a written statement. “The parties are working toward an agreement which delivers some of the requested documents and information while protecting voter privacy and the integrity of election equipment. We look forward to reaching consensus on these matters.”

Senate President Karen Fann’s office also provided Arizona Mirror with a list of 10 points that it claimed the county had agreed to. But a county spokesman said those points were merely the basis for negotiations.

“The Board members have not agreed to those 10-points, but it is fair to say they are aware there is a framework for negotiations,” spokesman Fields Moseley said in an email.

Those disputed 10 points are:

  • The County will acknowledge the legislature’s authority to issue investigatory subpoenas.
  • The County will provide images of ballots, in the format currently saved by the County.
  • The audit will include a logic and accuracy test on a random sample of tabulation machines.
  • The audit will include a review of the source code on a random sample of tabulation machines.
  • The auditor will have access to a random sample of desktops, servers, and routers only if and to the extent requested by the auditor, and in a manner/sequence designed to minimize disruption of County operations, and subject to any additional controls required by federal or state law.
  • Only authorized parties will have access to data or materials provided by the County.
  • The audit will examine only materials concerning the 2020 election.
  • The auditor will be certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
  • The auditor will be able to use and evaluate all the documents previously produced by the county.
  • The parties will work together in good faith to resolve all additional issues arising in the course of a full audit.

The fight over the subpoenas began in December as part of the ongoing fight over bogus election fraud claims that President Donald Trump and many of his supporters, including some members of the Arizona legislature, have repeatedly made since the president’s defeat in the general election. Fann and Eddie Farnsworth, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the initial subpoenas after a daylong judiciary committee hearing on the general election in Maricopa County, even though the hearing uncovered no evidence of fraud or other improprieties. A new set of subpoenas was issued this month after Sen. Warren Petersen took over the Judiciary Committee.

Many of those invented claims of election fraud involve Dominion Voting Systems, the vendor that provides Maricopa County’s voting equipment.

The county has argued that the subpoenas were unconstitutional in their scope, and unnecessary because the county board was in favor of auditing the election — but only after election-related litigation was over.

But the Senate claimed that the board of supervisors dropped those claims on Wednesday, agreeing to turn over nearly everything the Senate sought in exchange for guarantees about who would conduct the audit and who would have access to the materials.

“Not only has the Board agreed to turn over all the relevant information we sought in our subpoenas so that we may perform an audit, but they also acknowledge that the Legislature is a sovereign power of the state and that the county is a political subdivision, and as such, the Legislature has the constitutional and statutory authority to issue subpoenas,” Fann said in a statement.

***UPDATED: This story and headline have been updated to reflect comments from Maricopa County.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.