Maricopa County refuses to turn over elections equipment and ballots from the November general election to the Arizona Senate, escalating a fight between the dueling government bodies over election integrity oversight.
The Board of Supervisors, which announced its audit of the county’s election machines on Jan. 27, missed a Tuesday noon deadline to comply with a Senate subpoena following a meeting with the board’s attorneys, a local Fox affiliate reported.
Three days after Maricopa announced its audit, the Senate initiated its own parallel audit of elections equipment and materials, claiming the board’s audit does not meet the Senate’s request for a “deep forensic audit.” The Senate audit began on Tuesday with the issuance of the subpoena.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen said there could be “serious legal consequences” if the board does not comply. Petersen then followed through on the threat, announcing on Twitter that the Senate would draft a contempt resolution against the board.
Senate President Karen Fann drafted the contempt resolution, with the entire Arizona Senate Republican caucus cosponsoring the move.
Senate Republicans claim they can force the board to hand over election materials, but members of the election board disagree. Maricopa County Board spokesman Fields Moseley said there is no legal mechanism to conduct a recount or turn over the 2.1 million ballots to the Senate without an issued court order.
“The Board will not violate people’s trust by handing over the ballots that are under seal,” Moseley said in a statement, adding that the board would continue contact with the Senate representative without stopping its own audit aiming to “restore voter confidence in our elections process.”
According to the county’s description of its own audits, the process aims to analyze the county’s voting system’s hacking vulnerability and confirm that no vote switching was involved, no malicious software was installed, the systems were not connected to the internet, and all state and county procurement regulations were followed when leasing the Dominion Voting Systems equipment.
Dominion says it has been targeted by a disinformation campaign seeking to undermine confidence in the 2020 election and is engaged in a legal effort aimed at those who accused the company of facilitating widespread voter fraud, allegations of which have been rejected by election officials and the courts.
The state’s Senate and board have been at odds for months as county supervisors stand by the election results showing President Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump. The former president promoted election fraud claims for weeks following Nov. 3, prompting several Republican allies to call for audits of voting machines, software, and ballot verification. The former president’s legal team filed a flurry of lawsuits alleging fraud in the state, eight of which have been rejected by court judges.
The infighting among Arizona Republicans has stretched into further calls for examining the 2020 election results after incumbent GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, a Trump loyalist, has been subjected to demands of an audit to her own race by challenger Sergio Arellano. Ward beat Arellano by only 42 votes but has rejected calls to be audited, saying the results are “final.”
Ward’s efforts to tailor the Arizona GOP in the essence of Trump’s legacy has led the state’s Republican Party to take extended measures to reject those who have shown support for Biden, such as Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake, and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain.
Arizona’s GOP then voted to censure the trio in late January for either opting not to support Trump’s election challenges or expressing support for Biden’s candidacy in the November election. Flake and McCain both brushed off the censure, calling the rebuke a “badge of honor.”
Trump narrowly lost Arizona during the 2020 presidential election, the first Republican presidential candidate to do so since former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 1996. The flip was the impetus for the resultant identity crisis of the state GOP.
The Washington Examiner contacted the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for comment but did not immediately receive a response.