PHOENIX (AP) — A rural state of Arizona approved midterm election results Thursday, following an order from a judge who ruled that Republican auditors who refused to sign the vote count by this week’s deadline had broken the law.
Two Republicans on Cochise County’s three-member supervisory board have hesitated for weeks to approve the election, even as the deadline passed Monday. They did not mention any problems with the election results. Rather, state and federal election officials say they are dissatisfied that the machines used to list ballots are properly approved for use in elections, even though they say so.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sued a local voter and a group of retirees Monday, asking a judge to force the auditors to approve the election, a process formally known as canvas. Hobbs said he must receive statewide certification on December 5th, and that by law he can only delay it until December 8.
At the end of Thursday’s hearing, Judge Casey McGinley ordered the auditors to meet within 90 minutes and approve the election canvas by the end of the day.
“I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done,” said Supervisor Peggy Judd, one of only two Republicans to block certification twice. “And today, because of a court order and what’s going on in my own health and our lives, I feel like I have to follow through with what the judge did today.”
The board’s fellow Republican, Tom Crosby, skipped the meeting.
Two hours ago, Supervisor Ann English, the only Democrat member of the board, urged the judge to instruct the board to approve the election immediately, without waiting another day. At a meeting scheduled for Friday, Crosby said she was trying to stage a “coup between the secretary of state and electoral deniers”.
“A circus that I don’t think is meant to be,” said English. “So I’ve had enough. I think the public is fed up. So I want this to be resolved quickly if possible.”
Voting allows statewide certification to proceed as planned on Monday.
Hobbs, a Democrat who was elected governor in the November election, warned that he may have to confirm statewide results without numbers from Cochise County, which if not received in time, the result could destabilize several close races. The county’s 47,000 votes went overwhelmingly to the Republicans.
Board members represented themselves in court after struggling to find someone willing to take cases. The elected district attorney, who normally represents the board in legal disputes, refused to hear the cases, saying the auditors had acted illegally. The board voted hours before the hearing to hire an attorney from the Phoenix area, but he failed to gain momentum before the hearing and did not notify the court that he was representing the auditors.
Days before the November 8 election, Republican auditors abandoned their plan to hand-count all ballots, which the court said would be illegal, but last week they requested the secretary of state to prove that the ballot counting machines were legally approved before confirming the election. Results. On Monday, they said they would like to hear these concerns again before voting for certification. A meeting is scheduled for this purpose on Friday.
There are two companies accredited by the US Election Assistance Commission for testing and validating voting equipment, such as the spreadsheets used to read and count ballots in Arizona.
Conspiracy theories surrounding this process emerged in early 2021 and focused on an old accreditation certificate posted online for one of the companies. Federal officials investigated and reported that an administrative error caused the agency to be unable to reissue an updated certificate as the company remained in good standing and passed audits in 2018 and early 2021.
Officials also noted that federal law states that the only way for a testing company to lose certification is for the commission to revoke the certification, which did not happen.
Meanwhile, a federal judge in Phoenix sanctioned lawyers representing Republican governor and secretary of state candidates Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, respectively, who were defeated in a lawsuit demanding that all ballots be counted by hand.
Barack Obama’s appointed judge, John Tuchi, agreed with Maricopa County attorneys, who claimed the case was based on frivolous information, and ordered the attorneys to pay the county’s legal fees.
Tuchi wrote that lawyers “made false, misleading and unsupported factual claims” in their cases. He said the court would not allow lawyers to “introduce false narratives that unfoundedly undermine public confidence” in the democratic process.
Lawyers for Lake and Finchem, including prominent Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, did not respond to the Associated Press’s request for comment. They told the court their claims were “legally sound and backed by strong evidence”.
This story corrects an earlier version that said Mark Finchem was the Republican nominee for attorney general. He was nominated for Minister of Foreign Affairs.