The Arizona Senate passed a bill Thursday that would grant the Arizona legislature the authority to subpoena election records like ballots and tabulating equipment, and ignore any laws to the contrary.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 1408 on its third reading in the state’s upper chamber along a 16–14 party-line vote, with Republicans voting for and Democrats voting against.
The bill amends a portion of the Arizona statutes such that county election equipment, systems and records, and other information that is under the control of county personnel “may not be deemed privileged information, confidential information, or other information protected from disclosure.” It also subjects such records to a subpoena and stipulates that they “must be produced” and the legislature’s authority to conduct related probes “may not be infringed by any other law.”
The rule change is to be retroactive as of Dec. 31, 2019, meaning it would apply to records around the November election.
State Sen. Warren Petersen, a Republican, introduced the bill amid a battle between Republican Senate leaders and Maricopa County officials over the attempt by GOP senators to audit the 2020 election.
Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Senate have issued subpoenas to Maricopa County demanding that it turn over a range of election records, calling for a scanned ballot audit and a forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment and software. But the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted against complying with the subpoenas, instead seeking judgment from a court about whether they have to comply. Arizona senators filed a countersuit, asking the court to enforce the subpoenas, which was subsequently dismissed.
County officials alleged the subpoenas were “far in excess” of the state legislature’s power. “The subpoenas are unlawful,” the county said in its lawsuit. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge will hear arguments in the case next week and is expected to rule on the matter in short order, according to the Arizona Mirror.
Arizona’s attorney general has also weighed in on the case, saying that the state legislature has the authority to issue subpoenas regarding the administration of elections.
“The Arizona Legislature has broad power to issue subpoenas regarding election administration in connection with the 2020 general election, both to review how the county discharged its duties during that election and to craft future election legislation. Any argument by the county otherwise should fail,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, said in a court filing.
The passage of Senate Bill 1408 on Thursday gives further impetus to Republican sena… (Read more)