Speed Reads

Election Denial has consequences

Conservative Arizona county refuses to certify election results, sparking 2 lawsuits and potential chaos

Fourteen of Arizona's 15 counties voted Monday to certify the results of the 2022 midterms, meeting the state's Nov. 28 deadline for county supervisors to canvass the election. But Cochise County's two Republican supervisors voted against certification, prompting lawsuits from voters in the conservative southeastern county and from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic governor-elect, asking the courts to force the county supervisors to certify the election by Thursday.

"For most of the 110 years since Arizona became the nation's 48th state, canvass day was a routine marker," The Arizona Republic reports. Certifying vote tallies was seen as a formality nationwide as well — until local election officials started experimenting with trying to derail election results they did not like after the 2020 election, prodded on by former President Donald Trump. Several other GOP-heavy Arizona counties discussed refusing to certify the results this year, but only Cochise followed through.

The two GOP Cochise County supervisors, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby, voted to meet again Friday, saying they wanted to hear more about the certification of voting machines. But Judd told The New York Times that the voting machine claim, debunked by state and county election officials, was "the only thing we have to stand on" to protest the election in Maricopa County, Arizona's most populous. "Our small counties, we're just sick and tired of getting kicked around and not being respected," she said.

Ann English, the Democrat on Cochise County's Board of Supervisors, voted to certify the vote. "I think they're trying to breed chaos and discontent," she told the Times, referring to Judd and Crosby. All three supervisors could now face Class 6 state felony charges for refusing to carry out election law, with possible fines and up to two years in jail, the Republic reports.

Hobbs' office also threatened last week to reluctantly certify the state election results on Dec. 8 without Cochise County's votes. Excluding the votes from heavily Republican county "would threaten to flip the victor in at least two close races — a U.S. House seat and state schools chief — from a Republican to a Democrat," The Associated Press reports, and potentially avert a recount of the state attorney general's race, where Democrat Kris Mayes beat Republican Abraham Hamadeh by just 510 votes.

The most likely scenario, however, is that state courts force Cochise County to certify the election, as happened in New Mexico's Otero County earlier this year.