Judge: Maricopa County elections contractor not subject to public records law

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2023 - 2:17pm
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2023 - 5:02pm

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the state’s public records law does not apply to a private company that prints early ballots and provides other election services to the county. 

We the People Arizona Alliance, a conservative group that pushes disproven theories of widespread election fraud, brought a lawsuit against Runbeck Elections Services seeking its security footage from the days around the 2022 election. 

Runbeck, a private company, denied the request, arguing it is not subject to the state’s public records law. 

But attorneys for the Alliance argued Runbeck was subject to the law under a previous court ruling against Cyber Ninjas, the contractor that conducted the Arizona Senate’s flawed review of the 2020 election. That ruling found Cyber Ninjas was subject to the public records law, because the Senate entirely outsourced an important government function to the contractor.

Judge Bradley Astrowsky ruled that wasn’t the case with Runbeck. In a ruling dismissing the case, he wrote that Runbeck accepted ballots and maintained them but did not count ballots, verify signatures or administer the election. 

“Here, Runbeck did not perform an important governmental function,” Astrowsky wrote in his ruling.

Additionally, Astrowsky ruled that the security footage could not be considered a public record, because Runbeck’s contract with the county does not require the company to record or maintain security camera footage.

“But the contract simply says nothing about security cameras. Plaintiff also alleges no facts tying Runbeck's security-camera system and security camera footage to ‘the furtherance of [any of Maricopa County's] duties,’” Astrowsky wrote.