An Arizona judge on Monday blocked rural Cochise County's plan to hand count all ballots cast ahead of and on Election Day.
Two Republican members of the three-person Cochise County Board of Supervisors requested the hand count, claiming without evidence that vote-counting machines are untrustworthy, The Associated Press reports. A group of retirees sued to stop the hand count of about 30,000 early ballots, arguing that Arizona state law only permits a hand count of 1 percent or 5,000 early ballots, whichever is less, to test the counting machines and make sure they are functioning properly.
Cochise County Elections Director Lisa Marra also opposed the hand count, saying it jeopardized ballot security and could delay the county certification of the election. Part of her duties include overseeing hand counts, but the Cochise County Board of Supervisors tasked Cochise Recorder David Stevens with taking the ballots to an undisclosed site for a recount.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley ruled on Monday that the board of supervisors overstepped its legal authority when it ordered Stevens to count all of the ballots rather than the small sample required under Arizona state law. "There is no evidence before this court that electronic tabulation is inaccurate in the first instance, or more importantly, that the audit system established by law is insufficient to detect any inaccuracy it may possess," McGinley said.