GOP-led Arizona county votes to delay election certification, defying deadline
Arizona’s Cochise County opted against certifying its election canvass despite a statutory deadline to do so by Monday, a decision that is expected to quickly spark legal challenges.
The GOP-controlled county located in Arizona’s southeastern corner voted 2-1 against certifying the results, with supervisors citing arguments from a trio of conspiracy theorists who have claimed the county’s voting machines weren’t properly accredited.
“In that group’s opinion, the secretary [of state] has not been responsive in providing proof of lawful accreditation of voting machine laboratories,” Supervisor Tom Crosby (R) said at Monday’s meeting. “In my opinion, that lack of response would seem to suggest the inability to provide the requested proof by the secretary.”
Supervisor Peggy Judd (R) voted with Crosby against certifying the results, saying, “I like that idea, I felt there wasn’t enough.” Judd also attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington that preceded the Capitol riot.
The Arizona secretary of state’s office and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission have refuted the allegations about improper accreditation.
Arizona has become an epicenter for GOP challenges to the midterm elections, which comes two years after former President Trump and his allies advanced unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud in the state in the 2020 presidential election.
“These claims are derived from baseless conspiracies about Arizona’s equipment certification process,” State Elections Director Kori Lorick wrote to county supervisors last week. “Cochise County’s election equipment was properly certified and remains in compliance with state and federal requirements.”
Lorick promised to sue the county if it does not certify by Monday, and Marc Elias, a prominent progressive elections attorney, quickly announced after the vote that his firm will file a suit.
Supervisor Ann English, the board’s chair and lone Democrat, voted to certify the results.
“There is no reason for us to delay. We have heard from every person, more than once, how they feel about the certification of the machines,” English said.
“We have heard from the secretary of state’s office, who is in charge of elections,” she continued. “We have been presented materials that was asked for at the last meeting from both sides. And I feel that you both have the information necessary in order to make this decision that’s nondiscretionary.”
The two Republicans said they would consider a motion to certify the results on Friday, three days ahead of state officials’ deadline to certify the election by Dec. 5.
If the state moves ahead without a certified count from Cochise, it could alter the results of key races.
Rep.-elect Juan Ciscomani (R) narrowly won Arizona’s 6th Congressional District by about 5,200 votes, but that victory relies upon Ciscomani’s lead of more than 13,700 ballots in Cochise.
Meanwhile, supervisors in Mohave County, a Republican-leaning area in Arizona’s northwestern corner, voted to recess until later on Monday as they weigh whether they will similarly defy the statutory deadline.
In Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous jurisdiction that includes Phoenix, the board’s certification meeting quickly became heated on Monday, with many showing up to persuade supervisors there against certification over printer malfunctions.