A lone Arizona Republican state senator obstructed his colleagues’ efforts to hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt for their refusal to comply with election-related subpoenas.
The state Senate first subpoenaed the board in mid-December, seeking digital images of the ballots cast, as well as various logs and other reports related to the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Maricopa County.
A Monday vote on a resolution to hold the county board in contempt for not complying failed in a 15-15 tie, due to GOP state Sen. Paul Boyer joining with 14 Democratic senators.
“I’ve always said, so long as there’s hope for both sides to work with one another, that I want to do all I can in my limited power to have us work amicably together,” Boyer said from the Arizona Senate floor, explaining his vote. “We still have time to work on this.”
Boyer, who was a co-sponsor of the resolution along with his Republican colleagues, referenced the board of supervisors’ legal complaint filed in state superior court Friday, which sought to quash the subpoena, calling it “unlawful and so invalid.”
The complaint further stated that the board of supervisors was trying to maintain the “secrecy of the ballots” by not complying with the Senate subpoena.
“I believe the board genuinely seeks the confidence and clarity from a court order to legally proceed,” Boyer said. “They seek to obtain it, and we seek that they get that legal confidence, post-haste.”
“Overall, I believe the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has no policy disagreement with additional audits of the last election. And ultimately that is exactly what should happen.”
The senator contended that the legal process should proceed without contempt charges, but appeared to leave the door open for future actions, stating the subpoena power “will be used, if necessary.”
“My vote today is about prayerful patience. It’s about resolving disagreements civilly,” Boyer said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Warren Petersen, who re-issued a subpoena last month with the threat of contempt charges against the board, disagreed with Boyer’s assessment.
Petersen said it is “absolutely not true” that the county wants to work with the Senate.
“The latest lawsuit … is another attempt to postpone compliance with the Senate’s investigation,” he said, following Boyer’s statement.
Petersen recounted that the Senate has consistently stated that it wanted access to the ballots, the voting machines and software since November’s election, but the board of supervisors has gone to court multiple times to block that effort.
“So through this pattern of litigation for the purpose of delay and public impugnment of legislative intentions, the board of supervisors has exhibited unusual contempt for the investigatory powers of the Senate. The most recent lawsuit only recommits them to that path,” he said.
Petersen also shot down the notion that the Senate’s audit would violate the secrecy of the ballots, calling it “hogwash.”
“That is a flat out lie,” he said. “It is literally impossible for the legislature or anyone else to determine how any person has voted. As anyone who has voted knows, ballots are anonymous.
“They don’t contain any information that ties them back to any specific voter. The legislature is only asking for copies of anonymous ballots and other generalized data.”
The senator contended if the information could be entrusted to “unelected county bureaucrats, surely it can be accessed by the people’s elected representatives in the legislature.”
Petersen stated that the legislature’s subpoena power is broad and that election-related materials certainly fall within its purview.
Further, whatever authority county officials have to conduct elections is derived from statutes enacted by the legislature.
“The legislature is responsible for creating the laws under which Arizona elections are conducted. To discharge this duty, it must be able to independently determine whether our current election process and systems are properly administrated, free from fraud and produce accurate results,” Petersen said.
He noted an audit may show that the election was conducted without issue, but it may also show possible errors or irregularities.
“The bottom line is — we have made a request, we’ve issued a subpoena and they have given us the finger,” Peterson said.
“They refuse to comply with the subpoena. That’s why they’re in contempt. That’s why they deserve to be held in contempt. It has been months.”
Former President Donald Trump carried Maricopa County (which includes the Phoenix metropolitan area) in 2016 by 2.9 percentage points (45,500 votes), but Democratic President Joe Biden won the county by 2.2 percentage points (45,100 votes) in November, or a 5.1 percent swing.
Republicans won every county-wide office election (save sheriff, which the incumbent Democrat held), including flipping the country recorder and winning the open treasurer seat.
The Arizona Secretary of State’s official tally has Biden defeating Trump statewide by 10,457 votes.