There has been a lot in the news about the State Senate’s efforts to audit the 2020 general election. But the recent filing in Superior Court by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors seems like one more effort to win not in court, but in the court of public opinion.
Throughout this process, the Board has been trying to portray the Senate as the big, bad villain in this election drama. By doing this, the Board is avoiding the facts in the case and the Media is ignoring the Board’s constantly shifting arguments on why supervisors should not comply with legally issued subpoenas from the Senate.
Despite what you hear on the news and read in the papers, this effort to do a proper audit of the 2020 election is not about overturning any results. And I have personally repeated this fact consistently to our county Supervisor, as has all of our Senate leadership who have been involved in the process.
I hope the eventual audit shows everything was above-board and accurate, but if there was a problem, it is the responsibility of the Legislature to correct it because election law is under the purview of the Legislature.
Our election process has been shaken by doubts over how we cast votes and how they’re counted. I have received literally tens of thousands of emails questioning the election results in Arizona, and specifically Maricopa County. Our voters need to know with certainty that their votes are counted and that they are counted correctly.
The county’s effort to quash our proper subpoenas includes several cases of them doing a complete 180 on their arguments. The county has backtracked on commitments made in an agreement with the Senate.
In January, the county admitted the Senate had a valid legislative purpose to issue subpoenas. Now, in their latest complaint, the county denies a valid legislative purpose. In January, the county agreed to produce ballot images to the Senate. Now, in the complaint, it claims it is legally prohibited from producing the images.
In December, the county adopted a clear view of the Senate’s right to hold the Board of Supervisors in contempt. Now, in the complaint, the county asks the judicial branch to interfere with the legislative branch’s previously conceded remedy of contempt.
This new lawsuit is filled with a mischaracterization of facts to gain an advantage with the courts and the media. Instead of making efforts to reach a resolution, the county is trying to score points.
Many of the headlines on this issue have been about the possibility of the arrest of the supervisors, which is not something we plan to pursue; but just as much attention should be spent on the open defiance by the board to not comply with a lawful Senate subpoena.
Under our state Constitution, county governments operate under the supervision of the Arizona State Legislature. When the Senate investigates the conduct of county officials on an issue of critical importance — such as the administration of elections — the county must comply with a legislative subpoena.
For two months now, the county has been trying to postpone compliance with the Senate investigation. It’s time for them to stop this stonewalling and allow the state to confirm the accuracy of the 2020 election, for the benefit of every one of our voters.
Rick Gray is majority leader in the Arizona Senate; he represents Senate District 21 in the West Valley.