GOP-controlled Arizona county refuses to certify 2022 midterm election results

Republican officials in a rural Arizona county refused to certify the 2022 election on Monday despite no evidence of anything wrong with the count, amid pressure from prominent Republicans to show the results winning the top race to Democrats. There was pressure to decline.

State elections officials had said they would sue Cochise County, known as CANVAS, if the board of supervisors missed Monday’s deadline to approve the official vote count. Two Republican county supervisors delayed the campaign vote until another hearing about concerns over the certification of ballots, although election officials have repeatedly said the equipment is properly approved.

State Elections Director Corey Lorick has said the machines are properly certified for use in elections. She wrote in a letter last week that the state would sue to compel Cochise County supervisors to certify, and that if they did not do so by the Dec. 5 deadline for statewide campaigning, exclude the county’s votes. will be given.

That would put the winner at risk of flipping at least two close races — a US House seat and the head of state’s schools — from a Republican to a Democrat.

A Cochise County voter and a group representing retirees filed a lawsuit late Monday asking a judge to order the board of supervisors to stop campaigning. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office previously said it would sue if the county missed the deadline.

Election 2022 Arizona
A man protests outside the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors auditorium before the board’s general election campaign meeting, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Phoenix.

Matt York/AP

“The Board of Supervisors had all the information they needed to certify this election and failed in their responsibility to Cochise voters,” Hobbs spokeswoman Sophia Solis said in an email.

Arizona law requires county officials to approve election campaigns, and attorneys in several counties warned Republican observers they could face criminal charges for failing to meet their obligations.

Election results have been certified largely without issue in courts across the country. Not so in Arizona, which was the focal point of efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election and push false narratives of fraud.

In a northeastern Pennsylvania county where paper shortages caused ballot problems on Election Day, an impasse broke out Monday over whether to report official ballots to the state, effectively controlling their certification of results. can be prevented from

Arizona has long been a GOP bastion, but this month Democrats won the highest-profile race over Republicans who have aggressively promoted Trump’s 2020 election lie. Kari Lakethe GOP candidate for governor who lost to Hobbs, and Mark Finchemthe candidate for secretary of state has refused to accept their loss,

They blame Republican election officials in Maricopa County, which has a problem with some ballot printers, including metro Phoenix, the state’s largest. Maricopa County officials said everyone had a chance to vote and that all legal ballots were counted.

Navajo, a rural Republican-leaning county, and Coconino, which is staunchly Democratic, voted Monday to certify. In conservative Mojave and Yavapai counties, supervisors voted to publicize the results despite their own misgivings and several dozen speakers urging them not to do so.

Hildy Angius, a Republican Mojave County Supervisor, said, “Delaying this vote again will only add suffering without really changing anything.” The county delayed its certification vote last week to lodge a protest against voting issues in Maricopa County.

In Cochise County, GOP supervisors abandoned a plan to count all ballots, which a court said would be illegal, but last week demanded that the secretary of state prove that vote-counting machines can count election results. were legally certified before granting approval. On Monday he said he wanted to hear again about those concerns.

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

Conspiracy theories emerged in early 2021 linked to the process of what appears to be an old accreditation certificate for one of the companies posted online. Federal officials investigated and reported that an administrative error resulted in the agency failing to reissue an updated certificate after the company remained in good standing and audited in 2018 and early 2021.

The officials also noted that federal law stipulates the only way for a testing company to lose certification is for the commission to revoke it, which did not happen.

Lake pointed to problems on Election Day in Maricopa County, where printers at some vote centers produced ballots with markings that were too light to be read by on-site tabulators. Lines were supported amid the confusion, and Lake says that an unknown number of his supporters may have been voted off as a result.

She filed a public records lawsuit last week demanding that the county produce documents shedding light on the issue before it votes on Monday to certify the election. Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich also demanded an explanation before the vote.

The county responded on Sunday that no one was stopped from voting, and 85% of vote centers never had lines longer than 45 minutes. County officials said most vote centers with long lines were near other vote centers with shorter waits.

The response led prominent Republicans, including party chair Kelly Ward, to blame the confusion on Twitter by telling supporters not to put their ballots in a secure box to be tabulated later by more robust machines at county election headquarters.

The county said only 17,000 Election Day ballots were placed in those secure boxes and that all were counted. Officials also said that the problem was distributed across the county, a claim by Lake that it was concentrated in Republican areas. Election Day ballots went overwhelmingly for Republicans, although only 16% of the 1.56 million votes cast in Maricopa County were done in person on Election Day.

Maricopa County supervisors listened for hours to dozens of people angry about the election, some of whom called for the county to repeal it, although there is no provision in state law to allow it. The observers unanimously approved the proposal.

“It was not a right election,” said Bill Gates, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, a Republican. “But it was safe. The votes have been counted correctly.”

Meanwhile, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said he would decide in the next few days whether to allow an election challenge by Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for Arizona attorney general, to move forward.

Warner, who was appointed to the court in 2007 by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, spoke after Monday afternoon’s hearing. Hamadeh filed a lawsuit earlier this month against his opponent, Democrat Chris Mayes, who holds a 510-vote lead in the race with every county recorder in Arizona and Katie Hobbs, secretary of state Katie Hobbs, who is now governor-elect. .

The lawsuit alleges errors and inaccuracies at some polling stations and seeks to unseat Hamadeh as attorney general. Mayes’ attorney says the lawsuit is premature.

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