Arizona’s Cochise County finally certifies its election results after a court order

Updated December 1, 2022 at 7:01 pm ET

Under a court order, officials in Republican-controlled Cochise County, Arizona, finally certified the results of their local midterm elections after they missed the state’s legal deadline and put the votes of more than 47,000 people.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley issued a ruling in a court hearing Thursday, ordering the county board of supervisors to meet and make the results official by 5 p.m. MT Thursday.

Two board members, Ann English, a Democrat, and Peggy Judd, a Republican, later voted to certify, while the third board member, Tom Crosby, a Republican, did not attend the court-ordered meeting.

The court order came three days after the two Republicans on the board voted Monday not to certify the results, despite finding no legitimate problems with the counts, turning a generally uneventful step in the election process into a closely watched controversy. close up. The move sparked multiple lawsuits, including one by the state’s secretary of state, who has been awaiting results from the county to proceed with the legally required state certification next week.

“I’ve had enough. I think the public has had enough,” said English, the chair of the board that supported the certification of the results and asked the judge for a “quick resolution” during the court hearing.

The judge said that the law is “clear”

Citing state law, McGinley said it is “clear” the board was “obligated” to certify the results and submit them to the secretary of state on Monday since there were no missing results in the county totals.

McGinley said the board “exceeded its legal authority by delaying the canvass for a reason that was not permitted by statute.”

Crosby and Judd, the county’s Republican supervisors, had claimed they wanted to delay certification because of concerns about county election equipment, which state officials confirmed was properly tested and certified.

However, during Thursday’s hearing, an attorney representing challengers in another lawsuit, brought against the board by the nonprofit Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and a Cochise County voter, suggested those were arguments from bad faith on the part of Crosby and Judd. The attorney referred to comments Judd had made to The New York Times Monday that claims about voting machine problems were “the only thing we have to lean on” as a cover to delay certification in order to protest local certification of results in Maricopa County, Arizona.

No attorneys were present in the courtroom Thursday to represent the board, which had only approved a last-minute choice of a law firm less than two hours before Thursday’s hearing.

Crosby tried to ask the judge to delay proceedings until next week to give his newly hired attorney time to catch up on the lawsuits, but McGinley denied the request after finding that waiting is “not in the interest of justice.”

The Arizona secretary of state’s office has been urging the county to complete certification by Thursday to avoid further delays in preparations for state certification of midterm election results. State officials warned of the possible exclusion of the county’s tens of thousands of votes from the official results if the board does not certify them on time.

Before retracting and voting to certify at the emergency board meeting, Judd called herself a “rule of law person” who ultimately had to support making the election results official due to the court ruling and “my own health and the situations that are happening.” In our life”.

“I’m not ashamed of anything I did,” Judd added.

There is still the possibility of criminal charges

Some former Arizona prosecutors have called for criminal investigations into Judd and Crosby.

This week, former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat, joined Richard Romley, a former Maricopa County Republican prosecutor, in calling for investigations by the Arizona Attorney General and the Cochise County Attorney. Goddard and Romley say in a letter that the Republican monitors likely violated at least three of the state’s criminal laws by willfully refusing to fulfill their legal duty to certify election results.

Goddard said that ultimately voting to certify would reduce the urgency for prosecutors to move forward with an investigation into the supervisors, but would not eliminate “the plague of having committed a crime.”

“It’s like paying money back after committing an armed robbery. You still committed the crime, even if the money is returned to the victim. And I think that’s the case here,” Goddard said in an interview Wednesday.

Brian McIntyre, the Cochise County prosecutor, told NPR on Wednesday that his office has been “evaluating options.” And Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office received the request from Goddard and Romley, said spokeswoman Brittni Thomason, who declined to comment on any investigation.

Another certification controversy appears to be over in Pennsylvania

On Thursday, another voter certification controversy in a swing state also appeared to reach a resolution.

In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, the local board of elections voted on wednesday to make its results official, after a deadlocked cross-party vote and one abstention forced the board to miss Monday’s legal deadline for counties without legally valid recount petitions.

It was not clear if the Pennsylvania Department of State would take the results certified by the county late. But on Thursday, a department spokeswoman, Ellen Lyon, confirmed to NPR in an email that Luzerne County’s results will be accepted.

Asked if the department believes the board is violating state law that set Luzerne County’s certification deadline Monday, Lyon declined to comment, referring to an earlier statement that the department was working with “a handful of counties to get their full approval.” certification results” in a “fluid situation”.

Edited by: benjamin swasey

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