In the newest development in the ongoing Maricopa County election audit saga, a lawyer representing the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said in a letter that, while the board intends to comply with the Arizona state Senate’s audit subpoenas, these do not specify the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center as the audit location, and so senators should identify an alternate location for election materials to be delivered for the probe.
Attorney Stephen W. Tully, who represents the board, wrote in an April 1 letter (pdf) to attorney Kory Langhofer, who represents a group of Republican state senators, that, “there is no agreement regarding performing the audit at Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (“MCTEC”) and the request to perform any audit, recount or other related activities at MCTEC is beyond the scope of the subpoenas issued.”
“The County stands ready to comply with the subpoenas as written, which requires delivery at 1700 W. Washington Street. Alternatively, the County is willing to discuss delivery of the requested items to the Senators’ custody at a non-County owned location of the Senators’ choosing,” he added.
“Please relay this information to your clients and have them contact me once they have identified a location for the delivery of the items subpoenaed,” Tully wrote.
The letter comes a day after the Republican-led Arizona state Senate announced that four firms have been hired to audit election results and recount the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County’s 2020 general election to verify the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s win. The announcement came after the Arizona Senate released a statement on March 18 saying it would conduct a “broad and detailed” audit, adding that it will test voting machines, scan ballots, look for IT breaches, and perform a hand count.
Recounts are something state law doesn’t allow except in narrow circumstances, but a judge’s ruling (pdf) said the Senate has oversight powers that allow it to carry out whatever election review it chooses.
The independent audit will be conducted by four out-of-state companies; Wake Technology Services, CyFIR, Digital Discovery, and Cyber Ninjas. A report is expected to be released in about 60 days, according to a statement from the Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus.
“The audit will validate every area of the voting process to ensure the integrity of the vote,” the Republican senators wrote. “The scope of work will include, but is not limited to, scanning all the ballots, a full manual recount, auditing the registration and votes cast, the vote counts, and the electronic voting system.”
The Arizona Senate Republicans said leadership will not be directly involved in the process to maintain integrity and transparency.
Two separate forensic audits of last year’s election have already been conducted by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors but Republicans have argued that a separate audit must be carried out with a trusted group to restore faith in the voting system.
Following the announcement about the hiring of the four audit firms, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting to get legal advice regarding “newly received information from the Senate concerning compliance with the election-related subpoenas,” according to a meeting action summary (pdf).
The Arizona Republican Party and its chairwoman, Kelli Ward, issued responses to the announcement that the board would be seeking legal advice.
“Update: I certainly hope that this 10AM ’emergency session’ of the BOS called after 4PM yesterday is to use the Maricopa Tabulation Center & allow the subpoenaed documents, technology, & information to be fully audited there. But I doubt it will be…,” Ward wrote in a tweet.
“All of these closed ’emergency sessions’ should be open to the public. Government behind closed doors doesn’t work,” the Arizona GOP account said in a tweet.
The Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has fought the Senate subpoenas and repeatedly said there were no issues with the conduct of the 2020 election.
Isabel van Brugen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.