PHOENIX — Despite no indication of a problem with the count, Republican officials in a remote Arizona county refused to certify the 2022 election on Monday. This decision was swiftly contested in court by the state’s chief election official. Cochise County in southeast Arizona has refused to certify, despite demands from prominent Republicans to disregard the results that show Democrats winning key races.
As a requirement of Arizona law, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who barely won the race for governor, requested a judge to order county officials to canvass the election. On Monday—the last day for counties to authorize the canvass—lawyers for a voter from Cochise County and a collection of retirees filed a related case. Although election officials have previously stated that the equipment is legally approved, the two Republican county supervisors postponed the canvass vote until Friday because they wanted to hear about their worries about the certification of ballot tabulators once more.
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Kori Lorick, the director of state elections, warned in a letter last week that Hobbs must accept the statewide canvass by the end of the following week or else Cochise County’s votes will be disqualified. That would put the winner of at least two close contests — for a seat in the U.S. House and the position of state superintendent of schools — at risk of switching from a Republican to a Democrat.
In Hobbs’ case, the Cochise County Superior Court is urged to issue a directive requiring certification by Thursday. Failure to certify would be contrary to the county’s voters’ will and “sow greater confusion and doubt about the integrity of Arizona’s election system,” according to a letter from Hobbs’ legal team.
Sophia Solis, a spokesperson for Hobbs, wrote in an email that “the Board of Supervisors had all of the information they needed to certify this election and failed to maintain their responsibilities for Cochise voters.” Republican county supervisors were told by attorneys in numerous counties that if they failed to comply with their legal commitments, they may be charged with a crime. Arizona law compels county officials to approve the election canvass.
Most jurisdictions around the nation have certified election results without incident. That hasn’t been the case in Arizona, the focus of former President Donald Trump and his associates’ campaigns to rig the 2020 election and spread bogus allegations of fraud. Election results certification was virtually prevented on Monday by an impasse among officials in a county in northeastern Pennsylvania where paper shortages resulted in issues with ballots on Election Day.
Arizona had previously been a stronghold for the GOP, but this month Democrats defeated Republicans in the majority of the state’s most notable elections who had actively backed Trump’s claims for the 2020 presidential election. Both Mark Finchem, a candidate for secretary of state, and Kari Lake, a Republican who lost to Hobbs in the race for governor, have refused to accept defeat.
They attribute a problem with some ballot printers on Republican election officials in Maricopa County, the largest in the state and encompassing metro Phoenix. Everyone got the opportunity to cast a ballot, according to Maricopa County officials, and all valid ballots were counted.
On Monday, the rural Republican-leaning counties of Navajo and Coconino both chose to certify. Despite their personal reservations and more than a dozen speakers imploring them not to, conservative supervisors in the counties of Mohave and Yavapai decided to canvass the findings.
Republican Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius argued that postponing the vote once more will merely prolong the suffering without accomplishing anything. Last Thursday, the county postponed its certification vote in protest of Maricopa County’s voting-related concerns.
Republican election supervisors in Cochise County dropped their plans to manually count every ballot, which a judge said would be against the law, but demanded last week that the secretary of state show the vote-counting machines were legitimately approved before they would accept the results. They stated on Monday that they wished to discuss these worries further.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has accredited two organizations to test and certify voting machinery, including the computerized tabulators used in Arizona to read and count ballots. Early in 2021, rumors of a cover-up around this procedure began to circulate. They centered on an internet posting of what looked to be an out-of-date accreditation certificate for one of the companies.
Federal investigators found that the government failed to provide an updated certificate despite the company’s continued good standing and audits in 2018 and early 2021 because of an administrative error. The only way a testing company may lose accreditation, according to federal law, is for the commission to revoke it; however, this did not happen, officials added.
Lake has cited issues with Maricopa County’s voting centers printing ballots with markings that were too faint for on-site tabulators to read on election day. Because of the chaos, lines backed up, and according to Lake, some of her supporters may not have cast ballots. Before voting to certify the election on Monday, she filed a public records lawsuit last Friday, asking the county to release papers illuminating the situation. Prior to the vote, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich also called for an explanation.
The county reacted on Sunday, claiming that nobody had been prohibited from casting a ballot and that lineups were never greater than 45 minutes at 85% of polling places. According to county officials, most polling places with huge lineups also had places close by with shorter lines.
In response, prominent Republicans were accused of causing confusion by advising followers on Twitter not to cast their ballots in a secure box so that they could be counted later by more powerful machines at the county elections office, including party chair Kelli Ward.
The county reported that all of the little less than 17,000 ballots cast on Election Day and placed in the safe boxes were counted. In addition, officials refuted Lake’s claims that the issue was confined to Republican-dominated areas by stating that it affected the entire county. Republicans won a resounding victory on election day, despite the fact that just 16% of Maricopa County’s 1.56 million total votes were cast in person.
Numerous people who were upset about the election spoke before Maricopa County supervisors for hours, with some requesting that the county hold re-election even though state law does not permit so. The canvass was unanimously approved by the supervisors. Republican Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said that “this was hardly a great election.” “However, it was secure. Votes have been accurately counted.
Judge Randall Warner of Maricopa County Superior Court stated that he would make a decision about Abraham Hamadeh’s election challenge in the coming days. Hamadeh is a Republican running for Arizona attorney general. After a Monday afternoon session, Warner, a 2007 court appointment by Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, took the podium.
Earlier this month, Hamadeh filed a lawsuit against his rival, Democrat Kris Mayes, who currently leads the race by 510 votes, as well as Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is now the state’s next governor. The complaint asks for Hamadeh to be appointed attorney general and claims mistakes and irregularities at several polling places. Mayes’ attorney claims that the lawsuit is untimely.
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