Arizona Democrats Asking Judge To Stop Republicans' Audit Of Maricopa County Elections

By Ben Giles
Published: Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 6:04pm
Updated: Friday, April 23, 2021 - 10:04am

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The audit site at Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Ben Giles/KJZZ
The audit site at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on April 22, 2021.

The Arizona Democratic Party and Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo are asking a judge to stop Senate Republicans’ controversial audit of the county’s November 2020 election results before it officially starts.

In a complaint filed Thursday afternoon in Maricopa County Superior Court, attorneys for Gallardo and the state party argue the audit, as well as a hand recount of the 2.1 million ballots cast by Maricopa County voters last November, puts voter confidentiality and the integrity of the election at risk.

“Beginning tomorrow morning, the private information of Maricopa County voters will be in the hands of untrained agents of a company operated by a known conspiracy theorist as part of an election ‘audit’ funded by other conspiracy theorists and unknown third parties intent on finding fault with the outcome of an election with which they disagree,” the complaint states.

Attorneys cited a litany of unknowns about the audit and recount process, which Senate Republicans delegated to Cyber Ninjas, a private Florida-based cybersecurity firm — a firm whose CEO, Doug Logan, has spread conspiracies of fraud about the election.

Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo on March 23, 2021, accuses Senate Republicans of pushing the idea of an audit of the 2020 election as an excuse to erect a new series of restrictions on how people can vote.

What is known about the audit and recount, and what attorneys for Democrats say they believe to be the case, is a process that will “plainly run afoul” of provisions in Arizona law and the state’s election procedures manual that detail rules for ballot security, access to voter registration records and training required of staff who handle the ballots and electronic voting systems.

The complaint cites a ruling by Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason, who found in favor of Senate Republicans in a previous legal battle over lawmakers’ subpoena of voting records, including voting machines, ballots and early-ballot envelopes. While Thomason ruled senators have a right to subpoena those records, the judge wrote that he was “concerned” about the confidentiality of ballots once turned over to the Senate.

Democratic Party attorneys wrote that senators are obligated to follow provisions in the election procedures manual to provide appropriate ballot security, the same as election officials.

Instead, “the Senate plans to give (Cyber Ninjas) full unsupervised authority to conduct the Audit, the Senate will abdicate any responsibility or participation in the Audit, and neither the Senate nor any other government official will participate in the audit to ensure security and confidentiality of the ballots, voter registration files, or voting equipment.”

In addition to a temporary restraining order to halt the audit and recount, a second complaint asks the court to declare the entire process unlawful and bar it from ever occurring.

Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and Ken Bennett, her liaison with Cyber Ninjas, could not immediately be reached for comment.

A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

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