PHOENIX — A group of largely unidentified individuals is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to void the 2018 and 2020 election returns, ranging from governor and some legislators to sheriffs of Pima and Maricopa counties.
And they want the justices then to install them as replacements.
Their often-rambling 26 pages of legal arguments and 116 pages of exhibits contend the equipment used at both elections was not properly certified. The lawsuit claims that makes the election results unreliable and void.
More to the point, they argue that once the offices are declared legally vacant, that empowers the justices to name replacements. And they contend they are the ones who should be put in place, at least until a properly run special election could be called.
It isn’t just the last two statewide elections they contend are flawed. The plaintiffs also want the justices to overturn the 2019 Tucson city election, specifically citing Democratic Mayor Regina Romero’s election.
The lawsuit, filed without an attorney, asks the justices to keep their names and personal information secret “due to a reasonable concern for their safety.’’
Instead, it is filed under the banner of “We the People of the State of Arizona, ex rel.’’ That is an abbreviation of the legal term “ex ralatione,’’ meaning their intent is to file on behalf of the state of Arizona.
Only one name is disclosed: Rayana B. Eldan, who lists herself as the “representative voice’’ for the legal filing. The only contact is an email address.
The only response to an email to Eldan in turn referred questions to an email account operated by Daniel Wood, who was a Republican candidate for Congress last year. He did not immediately respond to questions.
But Eldan, in her filing, did tell the justices that if they take up the case the names will have to be disclosed, though she requested that other personal information such as addresses and birth dates remain off limits to public view.
One thing the lawsuit does not seek is a reversal of the state’s 11 electoral votes going to Joe Biden. That likely is beyond the reach of Arizona courts.
Meanwhile, at Senate audit
Legal battles still could be in the offing on other fronts, as the state Senate was moving Monday to issue subpoenas for the five Maricopa County supervisors and a top county election official, demanding that they produce certain passwords for counting equipment used in 2020 at voting centers.
That equipment, having been produced after an earlier subpoena, now is being examined at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix by Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired by Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, to review the conduct of the 2020 general election.
Senators also want Cyber Ninjas to have access to the county’s computer router system, something that would allow them to trace contacts not only among county computers but also any computer traffic to or from outside sources. County officials, acting at the behest of Sheriff Paul Penzone, have said complying would endanger law enforcement operations as the routers include traffic beyond the recorder’s office and election department.
“The attention it deserves’’
Every legal challenge to the 2020 results has been thrown out of court.
The lawsuit filed at the high court contends state and federal laws about the conduct of elections and the certification of equipment were not followed.
The plaintiffs assert that means all members of the executive branch are holding office illegally, so they can’t be the ones to name replacements if the justices agree. “Therefore it falls to the court to appoint.’’
What the lawsuit ignores is that Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Justices Andrew Gould and John Lopez themselves were on the 2020 ballot to be retained. And the 2018 ballot included Clint Bolick and John Pelander, the latter having since retired.
There also is no explanation of why, while alleging all results are invalid, only certain elected officials were named as defendants whose offices should be declared vacant.
For example, it seeks the ouster of just four representatives: Republicans Rusty Bowers and Travis Grantham and Democrats Randall Friese and Domingo DeGrazia (whose name they misspelled). And the only senators challenged are Democrats Victoria Steele and Kirsten Engel, here, too, with a misspelled name.
And the list of those statewide officers to be replaced skips over Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
One possible explanation is the bid by the challengers to get the justices to install them as replacements.
“Petitioners were not groomed for office nor intended to hold public office, and yet all are competent citizens who meet the constitutional requirements for each position challenged,’’ they state. That suggests they have only plaintiffs who live in certain legislative districts. And the position of attorney general requires that someone be authorized to practice law in Arizona.
A spokeswoman for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is named in the filing, said it will “get all the attention it deserves.’’