Arizona Senate demands 2.1 million ballots and now? It has no idea what to do with them

Senate Republicans spent months demanding Maricopa County's 2.1 milion ballots, now they don't know what to do with them. This is their idea of restoring public confidence in elections?

For two months, the Arizona Senate has been demanding that Maricopa County turn over the 2.1 million ballots cast in the November election.

Now, the Senate doesn’t know what to do with them.

If this is how the Republicans’ “full forensic audit” begins, get ready for a train wreck, Arizona.

Senate made a stink over subpoenas

Republican senators have been itching since November to get their hands on the ballots that delivered the state’s 11 electoral votes to Joe Biden.

Senators issued a pair of subpoenas on Dec. 15, demanding that the county turn over all ballots, voting machines and detailed information on every Arizona voter, among other things. On Jan. 12, Senate President Karen Fann issued a third subpoena ordering the county to deliver the ballots by 9 a.m. Jan. 13.

When the county refused, contending state law required that the ballots remain sealed in a secure county warehouse, the Senate actually came within one vote of tossing the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in jail.

The standoff ended last week when Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ordered the county to comply with the Senate subpoena. So on Monday, Maricopa County officials boxed up the ballots and early ballot affadavit envelopes and began loading them onto trucks.

All 73 pallets of them.

Now, we learn the Senate has no idea what to do with the ballots?

Late Monday, a lawyer for the Senate asked Maricopa County to hold off on delivery.

“The Senate’s preference is to maintain the materials in the County’s facility until the Senate has made suitable arrangements for storing the materials elsewhere,” attorney Kory Langhofer wrote, in an email to the county. “We are hoping that the Senate will have firmed up its plans in the next few days.”

County delivers, Senate has no plans

One would think Senate Republicans might have made suitable arrangements for those all-important ballots by now, given their months-long quest to get their mitts on them. They certainly were quick with their plans to hire Allied Security Operations Group – the experts who provided the Trump campaign with laughably inaccurate evidence of fraud – to conduct this “full forensic audit”.

On Jan. 29, the Senate announced that it had hired “an independent, qualified forensic auditing firm to analysis the 2020 election results” though Fann quickly backtracked once the public got wind of the fact that her idea of “independent, qualified” auditors was Trump’s crack Allied Security crew.

But the Senate apparently made no plans for what to do with the county’s 2.1 million ballots, which until this week have been stored in a fire suppression vault inside Maricopa County’s Election Tabulation Center, as required by state law.

Now the Senate is saying it never meant for the ballots to actually be delivered to the Senate, that it expected to perform its audit at the county’s facility.

This was about ‘election integrity?’

“The question is, why are they even sending them?” Senate spokesman Mike Phillipson told ABC 15 on Tuesday.

Perhaps it’s because the Senate subpoena demanded that the ballots be delivered to 1700 W. Washington, which is the address of the Senate?

Maricopa County officials say the Senate made no request to use county facilities. Even if it had, they don’t sound particularly interested in allowing unauthorized people to wander around in their facilities where county elections officials are preparing to conduct city elections, the first of which is scheduled for March 9 in Goodyear.

“The county is currently involved in municipal elections and cannot permit unauthorized persons inside the election facility,” Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers wrote, in a Wednesday letter to Fann. 

The county has to ensure election integrity, after all.

So off the ballots must go to the Senate, which spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to gain control of them.  

And now don’t know what to do with them

Heck of a way to “restore public confidence”, Sen. Fann.

If, in fact, that’s really the purpose of the forthcoming electoral rectal exam.

Heck of a way to inspire confidence

Surely if you are seeking an independent expert analysis to “ensure election integrity,” as our leaders have repeatedly claimed, you would have already arranged for a secure facility to house the ballots.

One that is guarded 24 hour a day to ensure no one tampers with them.

Surely, if restoring public confidence is your goal, you’d already have in place a plan to make darn sure that those ballots are watched every moment they are out of the hands of the people who are entrusted by law to keep them secure.

You would, wouldn’t you?

Sen. Fann has repeatedly assured us the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t on a quest to overturn the election. It is, she says, a mere search for truth.

“We must bring back confidence that the election results reported are how votes were legally cast,” she said on Jan. 29, in announcing that she had hired the Trump auditors. “The Senate’s forensic audit will bring accuracy and detail to the process, and with that restore integrity to the election process.” 

Accuracy and detail that begins and ends with the now-homeless ballots that, for all we know, may wind up with a home in Fann’s broom closet.  

I must say, my confidence is restored.

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