Rogue Arizona County finally confirms the election by judge’s order

PHOENIX — A rural Arizona county on Thursday confirmed its midterm election results by order of a judge who ruled Republican bosses broke the law when they refused to sign off on the ballot count by this week’s deadline.

Two Republicans on Cochise County’s three-member board of directors have refused for weeks to confirm the election, even though the deadline expired Monday. They did not mention any problems with the election results. Rather, they say they were not satisfied that the machines used to tabulate ballots were properly certified for use in elections, despite state and federal election officials’ claims.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs filed a lawsuit Monday, as did a local voter and a group of pensioners, demanding a judge force regulators to confirm the election, a process officially known as campaigning. Hobbs said she must hold statewide certification by December 5 and, by law, can only postpone it until December 8.

At the end of a hearing on Thursday, Judge Casey McGinley ordered supervisors to convene within 90 minutes and approve campaigning by the end of the day.

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

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

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 was trying to stage a “clash between the Secretary of State and the election deniers” at a meeting scheduled for Friday.

“I think it’s a circus that doesn’t have to happen,” said English. “Well, I’ve had enough. I think the public has had enough. So I’m asking for a quick solution if that’s possible.”

The vote allows nationwide certification to proceed as planned on Monday.

Hobbs, a Democrat elected governor in November’s election, had warned she may have to confirm statewide results without Cochise County numbers if they don’t come in on time, a result that could have tipped the balance of several close races . The county’s 47,000 votes went overwhelmingly to Republicans.

The board members represented themselves in court after struggling to find someone willing to take on the cases. The district attorney-elect, who normally represents the board in litigation, refused to handle the cases, saying the bosses acted unlawfully. The board voted to hire a Phoenix-area attorney hours before the hearing, but he was unable to update before the hearing and failed to inform the court that he was representing supervisors.

Days before the Nov. 8 election, Republican regulators abandoned plans to hand-count all ballots, which the court found illegal, but last week demanded that the secretary of state should prove the ballot-counting machines were legally certified before running the election would approve results. On Monday, they said they wanted to hear those concerns again before voting on certification. A meeting is planned for Friday.

There are two companies accredited by the US Election Assistance Commission to perform voting machine testing and certification, such as: B. the electronic tabs used in Arizona for reading and counting ballots.

In early 2021, conspiracy theories emerged surrounding this process, centering on what appeared to be an outdated certificate of accreditation for one of the companies that was posted online. Federal officials investigated and reported that an administrative error had meant the agency had not reissued an updated certificate as the company remained in good standing and had undergone 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 was not the case.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Phoenix sanctioned attorneys who were representing Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, the defeated Republican nominees for gubernatorial and attorney general, respectively, in a lawsuit to require all ballots to be counted by hand.

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

In their lawsuit, the lawyers made “false, misleading and unsubstantiated allegations of fact,” wrote Tuchi. He said the court will not condone lawyers who “promote false narratives that baselessly erode public confidence” in the democratic process.

Lake and Finchem’s attorneys, including prominent 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 “lawful and supported by strong evidence.”


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