2020 Election Audits: Dominion & Maricopa County Defy Arizona GOP's Subpoenas, DoJ Issues Warning
12:00 GMT 03.08.2021 (Updated: 13:21 GMT 06.08.2022)
Last week, the Arizona state Senate requested election materials from Maricopa County and Dominion Voting Systems. However, county officials and voting machine manufacturers refused to comply with the Senate's latest subpoenas, arguing that they are "invalid." Earlier, the US DoJ yet again warned the states against conducting 2020 election audits.
Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors and Dominion Voting Systems have resolutely defied the Arizona state Senate's subpoenas requesting the election-related materials necessary to complete the audit of the 2020 election results in the state's most populous county.
On 26 July, Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen issued two subpoenas
particularly seeking ballot envelopes or ballot envelope images, voter records, security keys for election machines, user names, passwords, routers or router images, and splunk logs.
However, in response, Maricopa County officials claimed that they do not have the user names, passwords, or security keys requested for the machines. They also refused to hand over routers or router images, or splunk logs, insisting that doing so would constitute "a security risk." Ballot envelopes and voter records would be produced only if there’s confirmation "that appropriate security measures are in place", highlighted the county's attorney Allister Adel, as quoted
by the Epoch Times.
Both Adel and Eric Spencer, a lawyer representing Dominion Voting Systems, noted that the Arizona GOP's subpoenas were "legally defective", as they were issued while the state Senate was out of session.
"Because the Subpoena is illegal and unenforceable, Dominion hopes that litigation over the Subpoena will not be necessary," Spencer wrote. "Should litigation result, however, Dominion intends to pursue all remedies available to it, including (but not necessarily limited to) recovery of its attorneys’ fees, expenses, and damages."
According to The Epoch Times, the Arizona state Senate is unlikely to vote on formalising the subpoena request in the near term, because, first, the Senate is still not in session and, second, two Arizona state Republicans have recently signalled that they now oppose the audit, which means that any such vote would fail.
However, the refusal of Maricopa officials and Dominion to deliver requested materials does not basically stem from the fact that Fann's subpoena appears "invalid". The Maricopa Board of Supervisors similarly refused to fully comply with the state Senate's previous subpoena request
, recognised as legit by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason in February 2021.
For its part, Dominion has made it clear that it "is not a public officer or public body and, therefore, has no obligation to make its records available for public inspection". The company refused to either produce or allow the inspection of any election-related materials owned by it in response to Senate President Fann's 23 July public record request.
Meanwhile, Maricopa Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers minced no words in his categorical statement urging the state Senators to "be prepared to defend any accusations of misdeeds in court": "It is now August of 2021," he wrote to Arizona Republican senators. "The election of November 2020 is over. If you haven't figured out that the election in Maricopa County was free, fair, and accurate yet, I'm not sure you ever will."
DoJ Meddling in State Election Audits, Again
While the Arizona Senate is reportedly preparing a formal response to the county and Dominion, Axios has drawn
attention to the fact that the refusal to comply with the subpoenas came just days after the US Justice Department issued a "second warning" to states conducting audits of the 2020 election, called by the agency "the most secure in American history".
On 28 July, the DoJ released a document
titled Federal Law Constraints on Post-Election "Audits"
which argues that regardless of the relevant state laws under which the states are conducting examination of the 2020 election results "federal law imposes additional constraints with which every jurisdiction must comply." Furthermore, non-compliance with these federal laws may result in criminal penalties, the DoJ warned.
In particular, the agency expressed concerns that "some jurisdictions conducting [audits] may be using, or proposing to use, procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Act", which requires election officials to retain federal election records for at least 22 months after an election. The first warning was issued by the DoJ over the Arizona election audit in May 2021.
However, the DoJ has fallen short of specifying whether it plans to take any action against Arizona and other states pursuing audits, as BuzzFeed remarked
In addition to Arizona, which has been conducting its independent forensic audit since April 2021, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin are seeking to carry out similar examinations of ballots, voting equipment and other materials related to the US 2020 elections. Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly endorsed the states' legislative initiative, calling upon other states to follow suit. Independent auditors, election integrity activists and Republican officials in a number of states have called out instances of apparent voting irregularities, including duplicate ballots, non-matching ballot totals and cyber-security problems