Rural Arizona County is delaying affirmation of interim outcomes as election disputes proceed


Officials in a rural Arizona county on Monday delayed certification of the November midterm elections, missing the legal deadline and getting the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to sue over the county’s failure to sign off on the results.

With a 2-1 vote Monday morning, the Republican majority on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors postponed certification until Friday, citing concerns about the voting machines. Since Monday was the deadline for all 15 Arizona counties to confirm their results, Cochise’s action could jeopardize the votes of about 47,000 residents in the county and wreak havoc on the election if those votes aren’t counted.

In the lawsuit filed by the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — a Democrat who will become the state’s next governor — officials said the failure to certify the election results violated state law and “potentially disenfranchise” county voters could.

CNN has reached out to regulators for comment.

Arizona official refutes Kari Lake’s allegation regarding vote counting

The standoff between officials in Cochise County and the Arizona Secretary of State’s office shows how false election information continues to fuel controversy over the 2022 results in some corners of the country, even as many of the candidates repeated former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election were defeated in November.

A crowd of grassroots activists turned up at a special meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to vocally protest the county’s election administration procedures during a public comment portion of the meeting, after problems with printers at polling stations on Election Day led to long lines covering about a third of the county’s polling stations . In a new letter to the attorney general’s office – which had requested an explanation of the problems – the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said that “no voter has been disenfranchised because of the difficulties the county has had with some of its printers.”

Disputes over the results have erupted elsewhere.

In Pennsylvania, where counties also had a Monday deadline to confirm their general election vote, local officials faced an onslaught of petitions demanding recounts. According to multiple media reports, officials in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania were deadlocked on Monday about confirming the findings. Election officials there did not respond to inquiries from CNN as of Monday afternoon.

In a statement to CNN, Pennsylvania State Department officials said they had reached out to Luzerne officials “to inquire about the board’s decision and their intended next steps.”

On election day, a paper shortage in the Luzerne district led to a court-ordered extension of personal voting.

Arizona, another key battleground state, has long been a cauldron of electoral conspiracies. GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and GOP secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, both of whom peddled Trump’s lies about 2020, have refused to give up their races as they continue to cast doubt on this year’s election results.

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Kari Lake will not commit to accepting the 2022 election results

Lake’s campaign filed a lawsuit last week demanding more information from the Maricopa County Department of Elections about the number of voters who checked in at polling stations versus the number of ballots cast. And Arizona’s GOP attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh — who, like Lake and Finchem, was backed by Trump — filed a lawsuit in the Maricopa County Superior Court last week, challenging the election results based on what the lawsuit found to be flawed in the Management of referred to The Choice.

Hamadeh trails his opponent, Democrat Kris Mayes, by 510 votes as their race heads to a recount. But the lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction prohibiting the Arizona Secretary of State from confirming Mayes as the winner and asks the court to declare Hamadeh the winner. A recount cannot begin until the state’s votes are certified.

Alex Gulotta, director of All Voting is Local in the state of Arizona, said the drama surrounding the certification of votes and the refusal to back down through the loss of candidates is part of an “infrastructure of voting denial” that has changed since the election built in Arizona in 2020.

“These people will continue to try to find fertile ground for their efforts to subvert our elections. They won’t give up,” said Gulotta. “We had quite a number of refusers, many of whom were not elected.”

But their refusal to make a concession “was inevitable given the Arizona candidates, at least this cycle.” Those aren’t good losers,” he added. “They said from the start that they were going to be bad losers.”

In Cochise County, Republican officials on the County Board of Supervisors endorsed the delay, citing concerns about voting machines.

Ann English, the leader of the Democrats, argued that “there is no reason for us to hesitate”.

But Republican commissioners Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd, who have cited claims that the machines weren’t properly certified, voted to delay signing the results. Monday’s action marked the second time the Republican-controlled board delayed certification. And it was the latest effort by Republicans on the board to voice their opposition to vote counting machines. Earlier this month they attempted to conduct a full-scale hand-count audit of the interim results, setting them up against the Cochise election commissioner and the district attorney, who warned the move could be against the law.

State election officials said concerns about the vote counting machines expressed by the Republican majority are rooted in debunked conspiracy theories.

State Elections Superintendent Kori Lorick has issued written confirmation that the voting machines have been tested and certified — a point Hobbs reiterated in Monday’s lawsuit. She is asking the court to force the board to confirm the results by Thursday.

A deadline of December 5 was initially set for nationwide certification. In the lawsuit, Hobbs’ attorneys said state law allows for a slight delay if her office hasn’t received results from a county, but not after Dec. 8 — or 30 days after the election.

“Without the intervention of this court, the secretary will have no choice but to complete the statewide hearing by December 8 without including Cochise County’s votes,” her attorneys added.

If somehow the votes from this Republican stronghold went uncounted, two races could be left to the Democrats: the head of state contest and a congressional race in which Republican Juan Ciscomani has already been predicted to be the winner by CNN and other media outlets.

In a recent opinion piece published in The Arizona Republic, two former Maricopa County election officials said the courts would likely step in and force Cochise to confirm the results.

But Republican Helen Purcell, a former Maricopa County clerk, and Tammy Patrick, a Democrat and former state compliance officer, warned that “a Republican-controlled board of directors ends up disenfranchising their own constituents and giving the Democrats even more victories.” could be midterms.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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