PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court quickly dismissed a bid by 20 unnamed people trying to void the 2020 election returns and put themselves into office instead.
Justice John Lopez, writing Tuesday for the full court, said election challenges are permitted only within five days following the official canvass of the results. That occurred on Nov. 30. This lawsuit was filed May 7.
“Failure of an election contestant to strictly comply with statutory requirements is fatal to his right to have an election contested,’’ Lopez wrote, quoting a 1978 attorney general’s opinion. “The rationale for requiring strict compliance with the time provisions for initiating an election contest is the strong public policy favoring stability and finality of election results.’’
But the justice said even if the plaintiffs had gone to court in time, they could not get what they sought.
“Nothing in the statutes petitioners cite grants them a private right of action to remove office holders and sit in their stead,’’ he wrote.
In fact, Lopez said, the only way to bring such an action is for someone to convince a judge that he or she is lawfully entitled to the office. There is no right of individuals to argue that the person holding the office is not there lawfully.
That right rests solely with the attorney general. But the challengers said they didn’t ask Mark Brnovich to act because, as someone who was elected in 2018 at an election they contend was illegally conducted, he has a conflict of interest.
“We are currently reviewing the court’s decision and determining what our next actions will be,’’ according to a written statement from a representative of the plaintiffs.
Tuesday’s order does not address the anonymous plaintiffs’ allegation that the 2018 and 2020 elections were invalid.
The order did raise the possibility that Arizonans will find out the names of the 20 individuals who sought to be appointed by the Supreme Court to offices ranging from governor and secretary of state to state legislators and even the mayor of Tucson.
In the order, Lopez said that anyone seeking action from the Supreme Court “must provide their names, addresses and telephone numbers.’’
He acknowledged there are situations in which this information, once filed with the court, can be sealed. But Lopez said the justices see no legal basis to keep that secret. However, he gave them until close of business Monday to provide some justification for keeping that information sealed.