Arizona County certifies election by order of judge

PHOENIX (AP) — A rural Arizona county on Thursday confirmed the results of its midterm elections, following an order from a judge who ruled Republican regulators broke the law when they refused to sign the vote tally before this week’s deadline.

Two Republicans on Cochise County’s three-member Board of Supervisors hesitated for weeks to certify the election, even as the deadline passed on Monday. They did not mention any problems with the election results. Rather, they say they were not convinced that the machines used to count the ballots were properly certified for use in elections, even though state and federal election officials have said they were.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs filed a lawsuit Monday, along with a local voter and a group of retirees, asking a judge to force regulators to certify the election, a process formally known as a canvassing. Hobbs said she must have the statewide certification by Dec. 5, and under the law she can only delay it until Dec. 8.

At the conclusion of a hearing on Thursday, Judge Casey McGinley ordered supervisors to meet within 90 minutes and approve the election inquiry by the end of the day.

“I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done,” said supervisor Peggy Judd, one of two Republicans who twice blocked certification. “And today I feel like I have to, because of a court ruling and because of my own health and situations that arise in our lives, I feel like I have to follow what the judge has done today.”

The other Republican on the board, Tom Crosby, skipped the meeting.

Two hours earlier, Supervisor Ann English, the board’s sole Democrat, urged the judge to order the board to confirm the election immediately and not wait another day. She said Crosby is trying to stage a “smackdown between the secretary of state and election deniers” at a meeting scheduled for Friday.

“I think it’s a circus that doesn’t have to happen,” English said. “So I’ve had enough. I think the public has had enough. So I ask for a quick resolution of this if possible.”

The vote allows statewide certification to proceed as scheduled on Monday.

Hobbs, a Democrat elected governor in the November election, had warned that she may have to certify statewide results with no numbers from Cochise County if they are not received in time, an outcome that would tip the balance of several close races. could have flipped. The county’s 47,000 votes overwhelmingly went to the Republicans.

The board members represented themselves in court after struggling to find someone willing to take the cases. The elected district attorney, who normally represents the board in legal disputes, declined to hear the cases, saying regulators acted illegally. The board voted hours before the hearing to hire a Phoenix-area attorney, but he was unable to get going before the hearing and did not inform the court that he was representing the regulators.

Days before the November 8 election, Republican regulators abandoned plans to hand-count all ballots, which the court said would be illegal, but last week required the secretary of state to prove that the vote-counting machines were legally certified before they could run the election. to approve. Results. On Monday, they said they wanted to hear those concerns again before voting on certification. A meeting is scheduled for Friday.

There are two companies accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to test and certify voting equipment, such as the electronic tabulators used in Arizona to read and count ballots.

Conspiracy theories surrounding this process surfaced in early 2021, centering on what appeared to be an outdated accreditation certificate for one of the companies posted online. Federal officials investigated and reported that a clerical error resulted in the agency not re-issuing an updated certificate as the company remained in good standing and underwent audits in 2018 and early 2021.

Officials also noted that federal law dictates that the only way a testing company can lose certification is for the commission to revoke it, which has not happened.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Phoenix has sanctioned attorneys representing Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, the defeated Republican candidates for governor and secretary of state, respectively, in a lawsuit demanding that all ballots be counted by hand.

Judge John Tuchi, a Barack Obama appointee, agreed with Maricopa County attorneys, who argued that the lawsuit was based on frivolous information, and ordered the attorneys to pay the county’s legal fees.

The lawyers “made false, misleading and unsupported factual claims” in their lawsuit, Tuchi wrote. He said the court will not allow lawyers to “spread false narratives that unfoundedly undermine public confidence” in the democratic process.

Lake and Finchem’s attorneys, including noted Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press. They told the court that their claims were “legally sound and supported by strong evidence”.


This story corrects an earlier version that said Mark Finchem was the Republican nominee for attorney general. He was the candidate for Secretary of State.

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