PHOENIX -- Arizona is seeking a voice in the lawsuit Texas has brought against some other states won by Joe Biden.
But exactly who Attorney General Mark Brnovich will side with remains unclear.
In legal papers filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, Brnovich said he wants to file a brief to argue the importance of "election integrity.'' And he said he wants a quick decision in the case.
What's telling, though, is that Brnovich is not joining with 17 other Republican attorneys general who filed their own brief with the Supreme Court siding with Texas. That asks the justices to back Texas in its bid to block a final vote by the Electoral College while the court considers allegations that illegal changes in laws in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin created the opportunity for fraud.
Instead, Brnovich aide Ryan Anderson said his boss wants to ensure that any ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court about laws and rules that govern election laws -- in this case, in particular, about the presidential race -- do not undermine Arizona's own regulations. And Anderson said as far as his boss is concerned, Arizona does elections right, which is why it wasn't sued by Texas as were the four other states where, like Arizona, Biden won the popular vote.
However, Brnovich is not the only Arizona elected official weighing in at the Supreme Court.
Ten state representatives and three senators, all Republicans, joined with counterparts from Alaska and Idaho on Thursday filed their own brief in support of Texas.
"An elite group of sitting Democrat officers in each of the defendant states coordinated with the Democrat party to illegally and unconstitutionally change the rules established by the legislature in the defendant states, thereby depriving the people of their states a free and fair election -- the very basis of a republican form of government,'' they charged through their attorneys.
The representatives are Nancy Barto, Frank Carroll, John Fillmore, Mark Finchem, Travis Granthan, Anthony Kern, David Livingston, Steve Pierce, Bret Roberts and Kelly Townsend. The senators are Sylvia Allen, Sonny Borrelli and David Gowan.
Brnovich made the conscious decision not to join with Republican attorneys general from 17 other states who are siding with Texas and the demand by that state that the justices block a final vote of the Electoral College while the case is decided or, potentially more telling, let the Republican-controlled legislatures in each of those states choose the electors.
Equally important is that Texas chose not to add Arizona to the list of states where it wants to void the election results. Anderson suggested that may be a good thing -- for Texas.
"Had Arizona been sued, that would have put our office in a situation where we would have had to decide what we would have filed and what we would have done,'' Anderson said. That would have put Brnovich in the position of having to defend not only the state but the election -- and Biden's win -- against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
And Anderson left no question about what Brnovich thinks of how Arizona conducted the election.
"The Arizona attorney general will not be advocating to overturn the election results in Arizona,'' he said.
Anderson said Brnovich does share one sentiment with his Texas counterpart.
"We all agree that the integrity of our elections are important,'' he said. "And there are too many Americans who do not trust the outcome of the election.''
But Anderson said that Arizona's interest in the legal fight is different than that of the other Republican attorneys general.
The lawsuit filed by Paxton charges that changes made this year to election procedures in the four battleground states, many due to the impact of the pandemic, are illegal.
In essence, he said that the changes, some enacted by courts, weakened ballot-integrity statutes. And that, in turn, has created the opportunity for fraud, though he does not allege any actual instances where that has occurred.
Courts in each of those states have dismissed similar claims. But Paxton is arguing that it is the responsibility of the nation's highest court to intercede and declare that the procedures used in those four states were illegal and therefore the results should not be allowed to stand.
Anderson said it is noteworthy that Texas did not sue Arizona despite the fact that the election returns, which remain standing after several legal challenges, are awarding the state's 11 electoral votes to Biden.
He said some of that is due to the fact that Brnovich has fought off various efforts to allow last-minute changes in election laws, ranging from how county election officials have to handle unsigned early ballots to extending the deadline for people registering to vote.
Anderson said it's not clear the Supreme Court will even consider the Texas petition. But he said if the justices take it up, Brnovich wants to be sure that any ruling they issue respects the interests of Arizona.
Those interests, he said, is that the justices recognize and affirm that it is the legislature that has prime say over how elections are conducted and not courts or even officials of the executive branch.
That's crucial because Arizona already has some of the laws that the Texas lawsuit says are lacking or were ignored elsewhere.
For example, Paxton complained that some states do not require that signatures on envelopes with early ballots be compared with records on file. Arizona requires matching of all envelopes received.
He also said that some states "flooded their citizenry with tens of millions of ballot applications and ballots,'' ignoring normal controls. Arizona, by contrast, sends early ballots only to those who request them, whether on an election-by-election basis or by signing up on the permanent early voting list.