Arizona’s attorney general on Wednesday said the state legislature has the authority to issue subpoenas regarding the administration of elections.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich sided with state lawmakers who are trying to compel Maricopa County election officials to produce material from the Nov. 3 election, including scans of mail-in ballots and images from voting machines.
“The Arizona Legislature has broad power to issue subpoenas regarding election administration in connection with the 2020 general election, both to review how the county discharged its duties during that election and to craft future election legislation. Any argument by the county otherwise should fail,” Brnovich, a Republican, said in a court filing.
Brnovich weighed in on an ongoing case, Maricopa County v. Fann, in the Maricopa County Superior Court.
State lawmakers issued subpoenas to the county’s Board of Supervisors earlier this month, calling for a scanned ballot audit and a forensic audit of ballot tabulation equipment and software. But the board voted against complying with the subpoenas, instead seeking judgement from a court about whether they have to comply. Arizona senators then filed a countersuit, asking the court to enforce the subpoenas, which was dismissed.
County officials alleged the subpoenas were “far in excess” of the state legislature’s power. “The subpoenas are unlawful,” the county said in its lawsuit.
Brnovich said that’s not correct, pointing to how the U.S. Constitution gives power to each state legislature to set the times, places, and manner of holding elections and the power to decide how electors for president of the United States will be chosen. He also noted Arizona’s constitution grants the legislature power to enact “laws to secure the purity of elections and guard against abuses of the elective franchise.”
“The Arizona Legislature should be permitted to issue subpoenas to determine whether government officials who have been delegated authority to administer elections have faithfully discharged those duties and to determine whether current law regarding election administration should remain the same or be amended,” Brnovich wrote.
“The Arizona Legislature has the power to keep election laws the same or to change those laws, and the court should recognize that the Arizona Legislature has the authority to issue subpoenas to obtain information to help it choose the best path forward for Arizona.”
A board spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry.
Clint Hickman, chairman of the board, told the Arizona Republic that the attorney general’s brief didn’t address whether lawmakers can issue subpoenas in a bid to overturn election results.
“What is at issue in the court is whether a legislative subpoena is the proper constitutional mechanism for the state Senate to take custody of the voting machines and voter database and millions of ballots for purpose of determining whether it wants to throw out the Nov. 3, 2020 election results and impose their preferred slate of presidential electors,” Hickman said. “Unfortunately, the brief declined to address that issue.”