A judge told a rural county in Arizona to certify the midterm election results
Judge told a rural county in Arizona: Officials in remote Cochise County, Arizona, certified the results of the county’s midterm elections on Thursday, putting an end to a high-stakes battle with state officials over the county’s refusal to sign off on election results by the legal deadline. Shortly after a judge ordered the county’s three-member board of supervisors to certify the results by 5 p.m. local time, the vote of 2-0 was taken.
Cochise was the 15th and final county in Arizona to certify the election. The dispute between Republican leaders in the county and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the next governor of the state, drew national attention as a symbol of how profoundly disinformation about elections had taken root in sections of the country since the 2020 election.
Concerned that the vote-tallying machines had not been properly certified, the two Republicans on the three-person board delayed certification. The Office of the Secretary of State asserted that the devices had been tested and certified, and contended that the obstinate board members were propagating disproved conspiracy theories. On Monday, statewide certification of Arizona’s results will occur.
Peggy Judd, one of the Republican supervisors who initially voted to delay certification, stated on Thursday that she is “not ashamed of what I did” and will vote “yes” in response to the court order. Ann English, the lone Democrat on the Cochise Board of Supervisors, joined her in certifying the results.
English said those who wanted to change how elections are run needed to lobby the legislature to change state law. “We react to the legislature,” she said. “We don’t create legislation for the state.” The third member of the board, Republican Tom Crosby, did not attend the meeting. Earlier Thursday, Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley told the supervisors that they had a “non-discretionary” duty to carry out the certification.
Hobbs, along with a retirees’ group, had sued to force the board to certify the results. The board’s initial delay risked disenfranchising some 47,000 voters, Hobbs said. Whatever worries supervisors or the public had about vote-tallying machines, McGinley ruled, were “not a justification to delay the canvass” of the results.
His decision came after weeks of debate in this Republican stronghold, as the GOP majority on the board tried to express its opposition to the machines. The two Republican supervisors on the three-member board attempted but failed, to undertake a thorough hand count audit of the general election results in November.
Since President Joe Biden flipped the once-consistently red state in 2020, becoming the first Democratic presidential contender to win the Grand Canyon State in nearly a quarter-century, Arizona has been a hotbed of election conspiracy theories. At public assemblies in Cochise and elsewhere, boisterous requests have been made for municipal officials to use their largely ministerial certification functions to disrupt elections.
Earlier this year, a court ordered the certification of primary election results in Otero County, New Mexico, after a local board voted against it, citing a lack of trust in tabulation devices.
“On the one hand, this is a hyper-local problem,” said Ryan Snow, counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Voting Rights Project. “On the other hand, it gets to the heart of what it means to be a democratic citizen.” You must be able to count on voting and having your vote count.”
“Since 2020, we’ve had a new battle in the fight for our democracy, which is whether the votes will be certified once they’ve been tabulated,” he added. Crosby attempted to postpone the proceedings during Thursday’s court hearing in order to allow an attorney hired by the supervisors just hours before the hearing to prepare. That request was refused by the judge. The board’s chairperson, English, pleaded with the judge to order the supervisors to move quickly. “Enough,” she declared. “I believe the general population has had enough.”
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