Maricopa LP and AUDIT USA Fight for Election Transparency in Arizona
The State of Arizona Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on January 4th in the case of AUDIT-USA v. MARICOPA COUNTY. AUDIT Elections USA, a non-profit organization based in Arizona, has appealed a decision by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to refuse to make ballot images from the November 2020 General Election and future elections publicly available. AUDIT USA is asking the Appeals Court to order the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to follow the law and release these electronic copies of the ballot images.
The Maricopa County Libertarian Party (Maricopa LP) and Audit USA have a long history of working together to ensure election integrity in Arizona. Audit USA is a non-profit organization founded by John Brakey, a well-known advocate for election transparency. Brakey and the Maricopa LP have collaborated on numerous election-related issues, including the use of ballot images.
Ballot images are pictures of every ballot cast in an election. They are completely anonymous because ballots are anonymous once they leave a voter’s hands. These images can be sorted by candidate, precinct, and other characteristics, and are an invaluable tool for verifying election results. Despite the clear benefits of using ballot images, some government officials have resisted making them publicly available.
AUDIT USA made a public records request to Santa Cruz County for copies of its cast vote records (CVR) for the 2022 primary election. When the county denied this request, Brakey sought to challenge the decision. In response, Santa Cruz County took the unprecedented step of suing Brakey and AUDIT USA, in an attempt to prevent them from challenging the county’s decision to deny a request for copies of the CVR for the primary.
This lawsuit set a potentially dangerous precedent, as it could allow governments to sue private individuals or organizations out of fear that they may request public records in the future. Judge Casey McGinley of Pima County Superior Court recognized the potentially problematic nature of the suit and threw it out, stating that Brakey and AUDIT USA have the right to oppose the records denial if they choose. It is unacceptable for government to use lawsuits as a means to silence those seeking transparency and accountability.
One such example is the case of Audit USA v. Maricopa County, which will be heard by the State of Arizona Court of Appeals on January 4th. Audit USA has appealed a decision by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to refuse to release ballot images from the November 2020 General Election and future elections. Audit USA believes that the release of these anonymous images will increase transparency and trust in Arizona’s elections, while Maricopa County argues that it is prohibited from doing so by state law.
It is crucial that the public has access to ballot images in order to ensure the integrity of our elections. The Maricopa LP stands with Audit USA and John Brakey in their efforts to make these important tools available to the public. We hope that the Court of Appeals will side with transparency and order the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to release the ballot images as requested.
“Releasing anonymous ballot images from the 2020 election and all future elections will go a long way towards increasing public confidence and reducing cynicism about Arizona’s elections,” Brakey said. “We are simply seeking elections that are transparent, trackable, and publicly verified for our democracy to thrive.”