03:41 GMT17 May 2021
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    At the eleventh hour Arizona Democrats filed a lawsuit seeking to ban the state Senate's audit of Maricopa County ballots and election equipment aimed at ensuring that Joe Biden won the race fair and square.

    On 23 April, Arizonian Republicans were scheduled to kick off an audit of 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County to ensure election integrity nearly six months after the 2020 November vote, which saw Joe Biden outperforming then-President Donald Trump in the county and statewide. The Trump legal team argued that the election was "stolen" citing alleged voter irregularities.

    "The long-awaited hand count and forensic audit of the election in Maricopa County starts Friday," the state's GOP account tweeted on Wednesday. "Process will be live-streamed nationally [by] OANN, observers will be non-partisan for full transparency."

    However, just hours before the procedure, the state's Democratic Party filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court insisting that the audit violates "various statutory and Election Procedures Manual provisions." An emergency court hearing was scheduled for the case on Friday, according to The Epoch Times.

    ​The Democrats allege that the procedure launched by the GOP is not secure and reliable, and warned that it could undermine "the integrity and security" of Arizona elections.

    ​They've request the court to declare the audit "unlawful" and issue a "restraining order and a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing defendants and any of their agents from proceeding with the audit."

    ​The Epoch Times draws attention to the fact that the Arizona Democratic Party's lawsuit comes at a time when the state's Republicans are trying to pass legislation addressing legal issues referred to by their political opponents in the latest lawsuit.

    On 18 February, the state's upper chamber passed Senate Bill 1408 which would grant the Arizona legislature the authority to examine election records, including ballots and tabulating equipment. It would also subject these records to a "subpoena," stipulating that the legislature's powers to conduct related investigations "may not be infringed by any other law." The bill in question is under consideration in the state's House.

    Sign directs voters to a polling station on Election Day in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. November 3, 2020
    © REUTERS / Cheney Orr
    Sign directs voters to a polling station on Election Day in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. November 3, 2020

    Third Audit to Ensure Election Integrity

    On 21 April, 2.1 million ballots and equipment, including 385 tabulators, were delivered for the audit to Phoenix and unloaded at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In late March, the Arizona Senate hired four firms, namely Wake Technology Services, CyFIR, Digital Discovery, and Cyber Ninjas to recount the ballots.

    Previously, Maricopa's Board of Supervisors conducted two forensic audits of the election results in the county. Still, the state's GOP expressed doubts over the procedure. 

    On 26 February, Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled that Maricopa County should provide two million plus ballots to the Arizona State Senate and grant access to its election equipment for further examination.

    Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs criticised the court's decision, claiming that "there's no credible evidence for any of the conspiracy theories that have abounded about the 2020 General Election".

    On 11 March, Arizona's Republican Senate President Karen Fann told the press that she had called upon Democrats to participate in the effort: "We want this to be fully transparent for all the right reasons." However, the Dems largely opposed the initiative.

    Although Trump's legal team has long stopped challenging the outcome of the 2020 elections, some states, including Arizona, are still trying to get to the bottom of the controversy. Earlier this year Michigan, Wisconsin, and Virginia court actions indicate "some absentee ballot procedures imposed by Democrats violated state laws." 


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    election irregularities, Republican Party, US Election 2020, audit, Maricopa County, Arizona, US
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