Arizona judge orders county to certify election immediately

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge on Thursday ordered Cochise County officials to certify midterm election results by the end of the day, saying Republican overseers broke the law by refusing to sign the vote count before the deadline this week.

Two Republicans on the county’s three-member board of oversight cited no issues with the election results. On the contrary, they say they are not convinced that the machines used to tabulate the ballots were properly certified for use in the election, although state and federal election officials have said they are. ‘were.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs filed the lawsuit Monday, as did a local voter and a group of retirees, arguing that supervisors are required by law to certify the election, a process officially known as canvassing. Hobbs says she is required to hold statewide certification on Dec. 5 and the law can only delay it until Dec. 8.

A lawyer representing Hobbs, Andy Gaona, said in court Thursday that scheduling conflicts could make it impossible to meet the secretary of state, governor, attorney general and chief justice in one room for certification at statewide, as required by law, if delayed. Monday.

Hobbs, a Democrat who was elected governor in the November election, warned she may have to certify Cochise County’s no-numbers results if they are not received in time, a result that could tip the scales of several close races. The county’s 47,000 votes went overwhelmingly to Republicans.

The council members represented themselves in court after struggling to find someone willing to take the cases. The county attorney-elect, who normally represents the council in legal disputes, declined to handle the cases, saying the supervisors acted illegally. The council voted hours before the hearing to hire a Phoenix-area attorney, but he was unable to find out before the hearing and did not inform the court that he was representing supervisors.

Judge Casey McGinley declined to delay the hearing, saying supervisors had been repeatedly warned they would need counsel and that delays would be problematic. He directed the board to meet at 3:30 p.m. mountain time and complete certification by 5 p.m.

Days before the election, Republican supervisors scrapped plans to count all ballots by hand, which the court said would be illegal, but demanded last week that the secretary of state prove that the machines vote counting were legally certified before approving the election results. On Monday, they said they wanted to hear those concerns again before voting on certification. A meeting is scheduled for this on Friday.

Supervisor Ann English, the council’s only Democrat, urged the judge to order the council to certify the election immediately. She said Republican board member Tom Crosby was trying to engineer a “sweep up between the secretary of state and election deniers.”

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

Two companies are accredited by the United States Election Assistance Commission to perform testing and certification of voting equipment, such as electronic tabulators used in Arizona to read and count ballots.

Conspiracy theories surrounding this process surfaced in early 2021, focusing on what appeared to be an outdated credential for one of the companies that was posted online. Federal authorities investigated and reported that an administrative error prevented the agency from reissuing an updated certificate, as the company remained in good standing and was subject to audits in 2018 and early 2018. 2021.

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

Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press

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