By Mimi Nguyen Ly
An Arizona Superior Court Judge has ruled to keep evidence provided by the Trump campaign unsealed in a lawsuit over rejected votes in Maricopa County, while agreeing to redact any identifying information.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley ruled late Tuesday to keep the case records unsealed, but would allow attorneys to redact Social Security numbers, birthdays, and signatures of witnesses and voters, reported the Arizona Republic. Protective seals are commonly requested in election-law cases due to the large quantities of documents from the Voter Registration Database that has personally-identifying information.
The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit the Trump campaign filed on Nov. 7 alleging that some in-person votes were disregarded because of improper guidance provided by poll workers.
Attorneys for the campaign filed a motion on Tuesday (pdf) requesting the judge to protect personally identifying information that had been admitted into evidence.
“Pursuant to Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), Plaintiffs move for entry of an order to protect confidential and personally identifying information contained in the parties’ proposed exhibits,” attorneys for the Trump campaign wrote.
“Pursuant to the Court’s order, the parties in this expedited election challenge will imminently exchange copies of their proposed exhibits, including video footage from inside a polling place (including voted ballots) and voluminous declarations containing personally identifying information (i.e., names, addresses, full dates of birth, partial SSNs, and signatures).
“Entry of a protective order, as well as an order sealing the records when admitted into evidence, will allow full access to critically important evidentiary materials, while ensuring that the privacy of individual voters and witnesses is appropriately safeguarded.”
The Trump campaign attorneys sought for an expedited resolution to the issue, citing an “urgent need to protect confidential information and avoid identity theft for the hundreds of declarants in this matter.”
County attorneys filed a separate motion in response to ask that the court keep the evidence unsealed to avoid eroding public confidence in the court given the nature of the case (pdf). They argued that the lawsuit should not be regarded as a typical election lawsuit. They also dismissed the allegations from witnesses about voting irregularities as “baseless.”
“Here, the Maricopa County Defendants are agreeable to allowing Plaintiffs to redact the personally-identifying information protected by A.R.S. § 16-168(F), but Plaintiffs are requesting significantly more than what is protected by statute with no legal or factual basis,” the county attorneys wrote.
They also wrote, “This is not a standard, run-of-the-mill election law challenge, and should not be treated as such. This case goes to the heart of election integrity, and alleges widespread, systemic failure by the Maricopa County Defendants, their employees, and their processes.
“The public has a right to know that the Maricopa County Defendants conducted the election fairly, and that there was no systemic breakdown as Plaintiffs allege,” county attorneys wrote.
According to the lawsuit, poll workers in Maricopa County pressed or told voters to press a green button to override overvote errors, instead of informing the voter of the error and providing them with a way to fix the matter.
“As a result, the machines disregarded the voter’s choices in the overvoted races,” the lawsuit claims.
County attorneys also said that certain evidence submitted by the Trump campaign, like video footage taken within vote centers on Election Day, is unlawful.
“Plaintiffs assert that they have video footage taken within vote centers on election day. If so, it appears the videographers violated Arizona law: it is a class 2 misdemeanor to take photographs or videos within the seventy-five foot limit around polling locations while voters are present,” county attorneys argued.
“Accordingly, these videos cannot be sealed, because they may be needed by the Attorney General or County Attorney should they choose to prosecute this unlawful behavior.”
They added, “It would be counterintuitive to have individuals invade the privacy of voters and violate their right to vote in secret and then use the fruit of that potentially illegal activity to advance a civil case. Moreover, it would be borderline obscene to allow them to do it, then present it to a court in secret.”
Judge Kiley’s latest ruling comes ahead of an evidentiary hearing and oral arguments scheduled for Thursday morning.
According to the Arizona Republic, the public can listen to the virtual hearing, set to begin at 9:30 a.m., by calling 877-309-2073 and using the access code 697-460-909.
The lawsuit in Maricopa County is one among a slew of lawsuits the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee has filed across the nation amid contested election results in battleground states.
President Donald Trump has alleged voter fraud and said any declarations of victory are premature, with his campaign having launched multiple legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan.
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News’ Sean Hannity late Tuesday that the Trump campaign has received 11,000 incident reports and has compiled at least 500 affidavits from witnesses across the various states.
Arizona Congresswoman Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) said on Tuesday that she believes Trump shouldn’t concede until every legal battle is resolved.
This case is cited as Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. et al v. Katie Hobbs et al. (CV2020-014248)
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