In a last-minute attempt to halt Arizona's Senate forensic audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County set to begin on Friday, the lone Democrat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the state's Democratic Party filed a lawsuit on Thursday arguing the long-anticipated audit violates state law.
On Friday, in response to the complaint, Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury ordered the AZ Senate to "pause" its recount of the Maricopa County's ballots, effective at 5 p.m. Judge Coury said he wanted to ensure the recount fully complies with Arizona law and asked for more information by Monday morning on the audit's policies and procedures. In making his decision, Judge Coury requested the AZ Democrat Party put up a $1 million bond to cover any expenses that the Senate wrongfully incurs due to the delay. The Party declined to put up the bond to initiate the pause, therefore the audit will continue this weekend as originally planned.
Previously riddled with litigation surrounding election integrity, two forensic audits have already been conducted in Maricopa County's 2020 election. Then, following a ruling by Superior Judge Timothy Thomason, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors agreed to share the election materials with the GOP-led Senate to conduct Friday's forensic audit.
The lawsuit, brought forward by Supervisor Steve Gallardo, questioned whether Republican Senate President Karen Fann can delegate audit-related activities that must be conducted by government officials to the third-party auditors that will perform the audit. The claim also asserts that the Senate is violating a host of laws and election regulations regarding the confidentiality and handling of election materials.
The complaint names Karen Fann as one of the defendants and pushes for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction to stop the audit. The claim also lists Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company that will conduct the audit; Warren Peterson, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and Arizona Senate liaison Ken Bennett. State Democratic leader Rebecca Rios expressed her support for the emergency injunction in a statement, tweeting:
"It's clear that this audit is no more than a temper tantrum from those still upset that they lost the election, and it is deeply damaging to the integrity of our elections and our democracy."
In a move of unprecedented transparency, the auditors selected by the Arizona Senate are providing real-time video access to their audit activities. Despite that, and ignoring a Nov. 20 poll that revealed an alarming number of Democrats (nearly a third) agreed with President Trump's assessment that the Nov. 3 election was stolen, after filing his lawsuit Thursday, Gallardo tweeted:
"The sole reason for this lawsuit and injunctions is to protect the sanctity of the ballots and, more importantly, to preserve voters' privacy from a sham audit that has been corrupted by agitators and conspiracy theorists. This corrupted process will not be transparent, dark money influencers have hand-picked the folks to observe and witness the "audit" that will be conducted by an uncertified and unqualified group."
UncoverDC has written several articles on the Nov. 3 election in Arizona, including a report on Dec. 2 after Governor Ducey (R-AZ) certified the state's election despite evidence of alleged fraud. Additionally, Dr. Peter Navarro has documented extensive investigation of suspected "widespread fraud" in the 2020 election. Arizona's House Majority Leader Warren Petersen previously stated that “a significant number of voters believe that fraud occurred and with the number of irregularities it is easy to understand why.”
The carefully planned audit in Maricopa County, which is the state's most populated county, will occur at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and will be live-streamed on OAN News. The GOP has the facility leased until May 14. In preparation, on Thursday, 2.1 million ballots were delivered to the venue, along with voting equipment, including 385 tabulators.
Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem, who was a guest on the Dark to Light Podcast with Frank and Beanz on March 3, released a statement to UncoverDC about Friday's forensic audit:
“Many of us legislator’s in the Senate and House are pleased to see progress. The forensic audit is a crucial step in restoring voter confidence in the election system. We look forward to the audit report and the factual information it will contain. I expect it will be thorough and revealing.”
You can watch live video feeds on any one of nine audit cameras at the link below:
This article has been updated to reflect the fact the AZ Democratic Party declined to put up the $1 million bond that the judge requested to cover any expenses that the Senate wrongfully incurs due to the halt, therefore the audit will proceed as planned.