Senate wants Maricopa County to set date to comply with election subpoena

By: - February 1, 2021 9:19 pm

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

The Arizona Senate wants Maricopa County to say by noon on Tuesday when it will provide the equipment, materials and data it wants for a controversial audit of the 2020 general election.

Senate President Karen Fann confirmed that the Senate’s legal counsel made the request to Maricopa County on Monday. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which is beginning its own audit of the election on Tuesday, will receive advice from its attorneys at 11 a.m., according to a spokesman.

In December, Fann and then-Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued two subpoenas to the county for ballot tabulation machines, software, 2 million ballots and other data and materials from the election for the purpose of conducting a forensic audit of the election. The county argued that the Senate lacks authority to demand some of the materials and is challenging the subpoenas in court.

Fann declined to comment on how the Senate will respond if the county doesn’t provide the dates as requested. State law allows the Senate to vote on whether to hold a witness in contempt for refusing to comply with a legislative subpoena, and refusal to comply with a legislative subpoena is a class two misdemeanor

A judge has not ruled on whether the county must comply with the subpoena. Fann announced in January that the Senate and Maricopa County had reached a settlement on an audit, which the county disputed.

The ultimatum comes as Maricopa County begins its own forensic audit of its ballot tabulation machines. The audit will run from Tuesday through Thursday, and possibly Friday. It will determine whether the machines were hacked, if they were ever connected to the internet during the election, and whether any votes were improperly switched. The audit will not, however, examine any actual ballots, which is among the Senate’s demands.

The Senate subpoenas followed weeks of baseless allegations, debunked conspiracy theories and other misinformation spread by former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters claiming that the election had been rigged against him in several swing states that voted for President Joe Biden, including Arizona, where the allegations have centered on Maricopa County. Many of the allegations involve Dominion Voting Systems, which provided the machines Maricopa County uses to count ballots.

Fann and Farnsworth issued the subpoenas following a six-hour judiciary committee hearing that uncovered no evidence of fraud or malfeasance, and despite the failure of nine lawsuits challenging the election results. 

Senate Republicans announced on Friday that they had selected an “independent, qualified, forensic auditing firm” to conduct the audit. But on Monday, Fann said nothing had been finalized. The Prescott Republican said she had selected a firm but was still considering one or two others. She declined to identify any of the firms. 

“We didn’t want to announce who it was because we’re not 100 percent sure that’s the one we’re actually going to select,” Fann said.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”