America First Legal Re-Files Landmark Arizona Election Integrity Case, Adding Yavapai County, and Reveals Never-Before-Seen Document About Printer Problems in Yavapai County

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, America First Legal (AFL) re-filed a landmark Arizona election integrity case on behalf of its clients in Yavapai County Superior Court. It replaces the initial case, which had been filed in Maricopa County and was voluntarily dismissed in response to Maricopa County’s schemes to sabotage the case. Additionally, it adds Yavapai County as a defendant.

On February 6, 2024, AFL filed a landmark election integrity case against Maricopa County, the members of the county Board of Supervisors, and County Recorder Stephen Richer on behalf of the Strong Communities Foundation of Arizona, a local grassroots organization, and Eric Lovelis, a registered voter in the county. On February 16, AFL amended the complaint to add a Coconino County registered voter as a plaintiff and to add Coconino County and its Board of Supervisors and Recorder as defendants.

On February 8, 2024—just two days after filing the case—AFL filed a routine motion for change of venue, asking for the case to be transferred to Yavapai County. Arizona law says that parties in a lawsuit against a county have the absolute right to have the case moved away from that county. The Arizona legislature created this right because it recognized the inherent power imbalance when a party is forced to litigate against a county on that county’s home turf.

However, notwithstanding the clear requirements of Arizona law, Maricopa County has been fighting tooth and nail to force this case to stay in Maricopa County. For example, the Maricopa County Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Maricopa County from the case so that the law allowing a change of venue wouldn’t apply. But, of course, Maricopa County is an essential and necessary defendant in a case that challenges election procedures in the County. Counties play a key role in administering elections, and election lawsuits regularly include counties as defendants. 

For example, Kari Lake sued Maricopa County on November 28, 2022. In that lawsuit, she alleged that Maricopa was a proper defendant in the case because it is “charged by law with … with conducting elections within its jurisdictional boundaries, including through its Board of Supervisors, appointing inspectors, marshals and judges to staff polling places on Election Day, and appointing certain Central Counting Boards.”

When Maricopa County answered the lawsuit, it admitted that she was right.

Even though a lawsuit challenging how Maricopa County conducts elections needs to include Maricopa County as a defendant, Maricopa County has now been trying to argue the opposite of what it has always admitted before. Unbelievably, it is trying to argue that a case about how the county manages elections should not include the county as a party. Maricopa County is trying to play procedural tricks to deprive our clients of their right to have their case heard outside the county. 

Our clients thus decided that enough was enough. They decided to voluntarily dismiss this case and refile it in Yavapai County. 

On the afternoon of Thursday, February 22, 2024, they filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in the Maricopa County Superior Court. 

The very next day, on Friday the 23rd, AFL re-filed the case on their behalf in Yavapai County, thus ensuring that our clients can exercise their rights to have the case heard outside of Maricopa County.

This new case contains all the same claims from the old case against Maricopa and Coconino Counties and also adds Yavapai County as a defendant. The new case also asserts claims against Yavapai County, alleging that some of the county’s signature verification and curing procedures are unlawful, that it has been unlawfully canceling voter registration without their knowledge or consent, and that it maintains unstaffed drop boxes. Additionally, the new complaint alleges that during the 2022 elections, at least one voting center in Yavapai County had printer malfunctions that caused long lines. 

For the first time, AFL can reveal that following an investigation, it has uncovered an internal email from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office (AZSOS) showing that, similar to Maricopa County, at least one voting center in Yavapai County had printer malfunctions that led to long lines on election day in 2022. 

Shortly after election day in 2022, America First Legal submitted a public records request to the AZSOS. The AZSOS ignored the request until America First Legal sued, after which the AZSOS finally complied with the request and produced relevant documents. One of those documents was the following email, showing that at least one voting center had printer malfunctions that caused long lines:

This refiled case not only preserves our clients’ right to litigate this case outside of Maricopa County but will also help bring to light other failures in the 2022 election that no one had heard about until now.

The landmark election integrity that America First Legal filed against Maricopa County is not dead. It is alive and will continue where it should be: outside of Maricopa County.

Statement from James Rogers, America First Legal Senior Counsel:

“A majority of Arizonans believe that problems with how Maricopa County conducted the 2022 election affected the outcome. Public trust in our institutions is faltering. This lawsuit is about restoring integrity to our election process. And what is Maricopa County’s response to the legitimate concerns of its citizens? Frivolous procedural motions trying to delay the case and ensure it is not heard on its merits. This voluntary dismissal is not the end of this case, but just the beginning. With this case newly refiled in Yavapai County, we will continue to zealously prosecute this case on behalf of our clients. It’s time to restore public confidence in Arizona’s elections. “ said James Rogers.

Read the Amended Complaint here.

Read the email about Yavapai County’s printer problems here.

Read the brief AFL filed with the Maricopa County Superior Court that describes some of Maricopa County’s attempts to undermine the case here.

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Photo credit: Adobe Stock Images / niyazz

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