County defies legislator’s vote data subpoena The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

County defies legislator’s vote data subpoena

December 27th, 2020 Mesa Tribune Staff
County defies legislator’s vote data subpoena

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

Maricopa County supervisors voted Friday to refuse to comply with subpoenas issued by the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The 4-1 vote followed a nearly three-hour executive session with attorneys amid concerns that at least some of what is being demanded by Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, would expose private information about voters.

There also were questions about whether the county even has the legal right to give that information to outsiders.

Instead, board members supporting the motion – three Republicans and one Democrat – voted to file suit and have a judge determine whether the subpoenas are legally valid. Among the majority was Republican Jack Sellers, whose district covers Ahwatukee.

Attorney Steve Tully, a former legislator hired by the county, said legislative panels can subpoena people to testify. Farnsworth’s seeks actual materials.

More significant, Tully said the subpoenas “serve no valid legislative purpose.’’

“There is no legislative authority to audit election results,’’ he said. Nor is there authority to examine ballots or conduct forensic audits of election equipment.

That paves the way for what could be a legal showdown over the rights of state lawmakers to make such demands and the rights of the supervisors, who have the information they want, to refuse.

Board Chairman Clint Hickman also took a shot at Farnsworth – whose term is up in a week – and the lawmakers who are demanding a laundry list of data and access to voting equipment.

Hickman suggested they are not really interested in hearing about how the election was conducted.

Hickman pointed out that he, county Elections Director Scott Jarrett and deputy Maricopa County Attorney Tom Liddy testified at the Judiciary Committee earlier last week for about six hours, answering all the questions from panel members. That, he said, included queries about the machinery and the software.

Supervisor Steve Chucri cast the lone dissenting vote.

But Chucri said it wasn’t that he believes the information should be surrendered. Instead, he wanted the refusal to be tied to an immediate vote by his colleagues to conduct their own audit.

Hickman said there will be such a review but not until all the three outstanding lawsuits challenging the election are resolved.

One subpoena seeks copies of all mail-in and absentee ballots in multiple digital formats along with various reports and logs and tapes of the ballot scanning and tabulation equipment.

The other demands that the county give access to a yet-to-be-chosen analyst to the ballot tabulation equipment from both the individual voting centers and the central counting system as well as the software used.

Farnsworth also wants a report on rejected ballots, audit trail logs, usernames and passwords of anyone who has access to the system and anyone from Dominion Voting Systems who could get into the system.

And then there is a command for the county to turn over daily and cumulative voter records which include the name, address and date of birth of each voter, where and when they voted, their party affiliation and any information about when they requested an early ballot, when it was sent, when it was voted and, if applicable, when it was canceled.

All that angered Supervisor Bill Gates.

“Let’s be clear: These subpoenas that have been issued and are before this body are truly extraordinary in the breadth of information that they’re looking for,’’ he said.

“As a conservative, I feel strongly about individual private information, of individuals, of voters,’’ Gates said. “I’m going to fight to protect that information before we turn it over.’’

But that, he said, is only part of his concern about surrendering all sorts of information to Farnsworth and his committee.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do with it,’’ Gates said.

Farnsworth told Capitol Media Services none of this information will be made public but is simply part of providing what an outside auditor needs to verify the results.

“So, this isn’t something that’s going to be handed out and put out on YouTube or out on any social media sites,’’ he said. “I mean, that’s just an absurdity.’’

Tully is arguing the subpoenas’ purpose is “to provide the information for counsel for the losing candidate so that he might attempt to use it to overturn the election results.’’

Farnsworth denied that.

“This has nothing to do with the Trump campaign,’’ he said. “This has to do with the concern by the Legislature that there are enough allegations of inappropriateness or not being able to engage in the process or anomalies that exist.’’

“I don’t know why that’s so difficult for people to understand,’’ he said.

Supervisor Steve Gallardo, who called the subpoenas “a sideshow coming from the Legislature’’ and a “circus.’’ The lone Democrat on the county board, he said the county conducted in a bipartisan manner.

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