The board overseeing a southeastern Arizona county, whose Republican leaders expected Friday to recount all Election Day ballots, delayed certifying last week’s voting results after hearing from a trio of conspiracy theorists , who alleged that the vote counting machines were not certified.
The three men, or some combination of them, have filed at least four cases raising similar claims before the Arizona Supreme Court through 2021 seeking to throw out the state’s 2020 election results. The court has rejected them all for lack of evidence, waiting too long after the election has been certified, or increasingly harsh language seeking relief.
But Tom Rice, Brian Steiner and Daniel Wood managed to persuade the two Republicans controlling the Cochise County Board of Supervisors that their claims were valid enough for them to delay certification until the November 28 deadline.
AZ board members withdraw lawsuit demanding hand-counting of ballots
He claimed that the US Election Assistance Commission allowed certification for testing companies to lapse, and that it revoked certification of vote tabulation equipment used statewide.
This came despite testimony from the state’s director of elections that the machines and the testing company were in fact certified.
“The equipment used in Cochise County is properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements,” state elections director Corey Lorick told the board. “Claims that SLI testing labs were not properly accredited are false.”
The move is the latest drama in the Republican-heavy county in recent weeks, which began when GOP board members Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd hand-counted all ballots in last week’s election to determine whether the machine would count. whether the count was correct or not.
Crosby also defended the lawsuit he and Judd filed earlier this week against the county elections director to force a hand-count. He dropped the case against Lisa Marra on Wednesday.
“If our submitters’ request is met with evidence that our machines are in fact legal and legally recognized, then indeed we should accept the results,” Crosby said. “However, if the machines are not validly certified, the opposite is also true. We cannot verify this election at this time.”
Crosby and Judd then voted to delay the certification, with Crosby stating that he believed Wood, Steiner and Rice needed to provide certification since they were “experts”.
Democratic Supervisor Ann English was powerless to govern them.
The delay potentially jeopardizes state certification, which is scheduled for Dec. 5, and at least one statewide recount.
Lorick issued a statement after the vote vowing to take legal action to force the board to accept the results. Formal election campaigning cannot be changed by elected county boards under Arizona law—their only role is to accept the numbers as they are counted by their elections departments.
“If they fail to do so, the Secretary (of State) will use all available legal remedies to comply with Arizona law and protect the vote-counting rights of Cochise County voters,” Lorick said.
Hand-counting ballot lawsuit threatens Arizona certification
All 15 Arizona counties face the same deadline of November 28, but there is no indication others are considering a similar disobedience.
Once the state certifies the results on December 5, there will be a recount in at least one statewide race.
The contest for attorney general between Republican Abraham Hamadeh and Democrat Chris Mayes is so close that a recount is inevitable. As of Friday night, Mayes was ahead by less than 600 votes, fewer ballots to be counted than the margin for the mandatory recount, which would be about 12,500 votes.
“It’s going to be close, and every vote counts,” Mayes said in a brief interview. “And obviously we’re headed for a recount one way or another.”
Another statewide race is also within margin for a recount, but Cathy Hoffman, the current superintendent of public instruction, conceded to Republican Tom Horn on Thursday. Horne is a former school chief who served two years as attorney general before her 2014 primary defeat. He was ahead by over 9,000 votes on Friday.
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Horn criticized Hoffman for adopting progressive teaching and promised to shut down any hint of “critical race theory”, which is not taught in state schools but is a hot-button issue for social conservatives. .
Judd said Wednesday that she would move to clear the way for a recount in the state.
“We had to step back from everything we were trying to do and say, well, we’ve got to let this play out,” Judd told The Associated Press. “Because that’s the last thing we want to get in (Marra’s) way.”
There has been no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting machines in 2020 or during this year’s midterm elections.
Arizona recalculation laws were changed this year. The earlier margin for compulsory recalculation was 1/10 of 1%. It is now 0.5%.