Judge upholds state Senate subpoenas of Maricopa County election ballots, equipment

President Joe Biden managed to eke out a narrow electoral win in Arizona in November, although many observers were left asking questions about his apparent victory.

Following the election, Arizona Senate Republicans opened an investigation into how the election was conducted, with a particular focus on Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state. This week, a judge removed a major barrier to conducting the probe.  

On Friday, Judge Timothy Thomason ruled that subpoenas issued by state Senate Republicans to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors are enforceable, The Associated Press reported.

Judge: Subpoenas are enforceable

“The Court finds that Subpoenas are legal and enforceable. There is no question that the Senators have the power to issue legislative subpoenas,” Thomason ruled. “The Subpoenas comply with the statutory requirements for legislative subpoenas. The Senate also has broad constitutional power to oversee elections.”

“The Arizona legislature clearly has the power to investigate and examine election reform matters. Accordingly, the Senators have the power to subpoena material as part of an inquiry into election reform measures,” Thomason said.

This means Senate Republicans will be able to audit the county’s 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 general election, as well as corresponding voting equipment.

The judge also rejected arguments made by county election officials that complying with the subpoenas would violate privacy laws, as well as the legal principle of separation of powers.

“Indeed, if that were the case, it would be illegal for any County official to ‘see’ any ballot after it was prepared for voting. It is apparent that the word ‘person,’ as used in this statute, does not refer to government officials,” Thomason concluded.

State Senate demands access

In December, a pair of subpoenas were issued to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Washington Examiner reported.

“One subpoena calls for a scanned ballot audit, to collect an electronic ballot image cast for all mail-in ballots counted in the November 2020 general election in Maricopa County, Arizona,” said Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann.

“The second subpoena calls for a full forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment, the software for that equipment, and the election management system used in the 2020 general election,” she added.

As the Examiner noted Friday, GOP members of the state Senate were “unsatisfied” by the voting audits that Maricopa County had conducted thus far.

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