The ruling comes as reports circulated that the auditors were expected to deliver their “earth-shattering” findings to the state Senate on Friday.
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that the documents sought by the left-wing activist group American Oversight detailing how the recount and audit are being conducted are public and must be turned over.
The records are currently in the possession of the contractors conducting the recount—including the the main contractor, Florida company Cyber Ninjas—who had said some of the methods used to analyze ballots were proprietary in nature.
Republicans who control the Senate argued that because the records are maintained by its contractors, they were not subject to public records law and that legislative immunity applies. But the court said that was not the case.
The court said was subject to the records law because it was performing a core government function that the Senate farmed out.
“Allowing the legislature to disregard the clear mandate of the [public records law] would undermine the integrity of the legislative process and discourage transparency, which contradicts the purpose of both the immunity doctrine and the [law],” acting presiding Judge Maria Elena Cruz wrote for the three-judge panel.
“The requested records are no less public records simply because they are in the possession of a third party, Cyber Ninjas,” Cruz wrote later in the ruling.
The ruling upholds a decision by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge, who has ordered the Senate to turn over the records by Aug. 31.
Kory Langhofer, the Senate’s lawyer, said they planned to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Some of the preliminary findings revealed by Cyber Ninjas and others indicated that there were widespread irregularities in the county’s 2.1 million ballots.
That included thousands of returned ballots that had no record of ever having been sent out, as well as the possibility that hundreds of thousands of ballots might have been marred by bleed-through and other issues resulting from the use of Sharpies and substandard paper.
In the official outcome certified under George Soros-backed Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Biden carried the state by only about 10,000 votes.
Democrat Mark Kelly’s US Senate victory over incumbent Republican Martha McSally also was called into question due to the narrow margin of victory.
A date for public release has not been announced.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press