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'The Board has real work to do': Maricopa County rejects Senate GOP demand for more election materials

The rejection of the subpoena could trigger a new court fight over the four-month-old partisan audit of the county’s 2020 presidential vote.

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board on Monday largely rejected Arizona Senate Republicans’ latest subpoena for more election materials. 

In a sharply worded response on behalf of the Republican-controlled board, Chairman Jack Sellers said:

“It is now August of 2021. The election of November of 2020 is over. If you haven't figured out that the election was free, fair and accurate yet, I'm not sure you ever will. The reason you haven't finished your 'audit' is because you hired people who have little experience and no understanding of how professional elections are run. 

"The Board has real work to do and little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land. Please finish whatever it is that you are doing and release whatever it is you are going to release."

The board responded to the Senate subpoena shortly before the 1 p.m. Monday deadline to comply, a county spokeswoman said. 

The rejection of the subpoena could trigger a new court fight over the four-month-old partisan audit of the county’s 2020 presidential vote. 

The subpoena, issued last week by Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Warren Petersen, arose from preliminary, but unsubstantiated, findings made public by the contractor hired to lead the election review.

RELATED: With election review entering fourth month, Arizona Senate GOP demands more information from county

First subpoena was in January

The first time Fann subpoenaed Maricopa County election materials, in January, a three-month court fight ensued. A judge upheld the legality of the initial subpoena. 

The court battle was punctuated by Senate Republicans' failed vote to hold the five-county supervisors in contempt. A "yes" vote might have subjected the supervisors to arrest.

"Almost everything they've asked for has already been supplied," Sellers told reporters Monday. "If they knew what they were doing, they'd know how to deal with it."

The Senate subpoena sought "all ballot envelopes" for mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 election. In its response Monday, the county's lawyer said digital images of the envelopes were provided in April. 

Stymied in bid for access

Denied Fann was once again stymied in her bid to obtain Maricopa County's computer routers and administrator-level passwords to the Dominion Voting Systems' ballot-counting machines that the county leases.

The equipment is central to the investigation of a conspiracy theory that Maricopa County's election equipment was connected to the internet, allowing outside actors to tinker with the election results.

Independent auditors have confirmed the machines are not connected to the internet.

Dominion Voting Systems' chief executive officer and lawyer flatly rejected the Senate Republicans' subpoena. 

Fann issued a statement late Monday responding to the county's and Dominion's refusal to comply with the subpoenas:

 "Based on today’s responses from Maricopa County and Dominion, it appears we will soon secure copies of ballot envelopes and critical voter registration information. That is progress, and the final audit report will be better because of it.

"We are weighing our options for securing access to the routers and passwords and will make a thoughtful decision in due course.... It is unfortunate the noncompliance by the County and Dominion continues to delay the results and breeds distrust.

"We remain committed to ensuring election integrity as voter confidence is at the heart of what we set out to achieve in this endeavor. Our constituents deserve no less."

The county has yet to follow through with a notice of claim against Fann and the Senate, seeking reimbursement for $2.8 million to replace the Dominion ballot-counting machines examined by Senate contractor Cyber Ninjas. 

Fann agreed to cover any costs if the machines were damaged in any way. 

Senate Republicans are expected to receive a final report on the election review from Cyber Ninjas sometime this month. It’s unclear whether an examination of the materials demanded by the subpoenas will prolong work on the final report. 

Arizona Politics

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