Los Angeles Times

Arizona may sue officials in delay

Cochise County faces lawsuit after refusing to certify Democratic wins in 2022 election.

- By Jonathan J. Cooper Cooper writes for the Associated Press.

PHOENIX — Republican officials in a rural Arizona county refused Monday to certify the 2022 election before the deadline amid pressure from prominent Republican­s to reject a vote count that had Democrats winning U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide races.

State election officials have said they will sue Cochise County if the Board of Supervisor­s misses Monday’s deadline to approve the official tally of votes, known as the canvass. The two Republican county supervisor­s delayed the canvass vote until hearing once more about concerns over the certificat­ion of ballot tabulators, though election officials have repeatedly said the equipment is properly approved.

Democratic election attorney Marc Elias pledged on Twitter to sue the county. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office has previously said it would sue if the county misses the deadline.

“The Board of Supervisor­s had all of the informatio­n they needed to certify this election and failed to uphold their responsibi­lity for Cochise voters,” Sophia Solis, a spokeswoma­n for Hobbs, said in an email.

Elsewhere, Republican supervisor­s in Mohave County postponed a certificat­ion vote until Thursday after hearing comments from residents angry about problems with ballot printers in Maricopa County.

Officials in Maricopa County, the state’s largest, where Phoenix is located, said everyone had a chance to vote and all legal ballots were counted.

Election results have largely been certified without issue in jurisdicti­ons across the country. That has not been the case in Arizona, which was a focal point for efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election and push false narratives of fraud.

Arizona was long a GOP stronghold, but this month Democrats won most of the highest-profile races over Republican­s who aggressive­ly promoted Trump’s 2020 election lies.

Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for governor who lost to Hobbs, and Mark Finchem, the candidate for secretary of state, have refused to acknowledg­e their losses. They blame Republican election officials in Maricopa County for a problem with some ballot printers.

Navajo, a rural, Republican-leaning county, and Coconino, which is staunchly Democratic, voted to certify on Monday. In conservati­ve Yavapai County, residents cited problems in Maricopa County in urging the board of supervisor­s not to approve the election results. The meeting was underway.

Republican supervisor­s in Mohave County said last week that they would sign off Monday but wanted to register a protest against voting issues in Maricopa County. In Cochise County, GOP supervisor­s had demanded that the secretary of state prove vote-counting machines were legally certified before they would approve the election results.

State elections director Kori Lorick has said the machines are properly certified. She wrote in a letter last week that the state would sue to force Cochise County supervisor­s to certify, and if they don’t do so by the deadline for the statewide canvass on Dec. 5, the county’s votes would be excluded.

That move threatens 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.

Lake has pointed to problems on election day in Maricopa County, where printers at some vote centers produced ballots with markings that were too light to be read by onsite tabulators. Lines backed up amid the confusion, and Lake says an unknown number of her supporters may have been dissuaded from voting.

She filed a public records lawsuit last week, demanding the county produce documents shedding light on the issue before voting to certify the election on Monday. Republican Atty. Gen. Mark Brnovich has also demanded an explanatio­n ahead of the vote.

The county responded on Sunday, saying nobody was prevented from voting, and 85% of vote centers never had lines longer than 45 minutes. Most vote centers with long lines were situated near others that had shorter waits, county officials said.

The response blamed prominent Republican­s, including party chair Kelli Ward, for sowing confusion by telling supporters on Twitter not to place their ballots in a secure box to be tabulated later by more robust machines at county elections headquarte­rs.

The county said that just under 17,000 election day ballots were placed in those secure boxes and all were counted. Only 16% of the 1.56 million votes cast in Maricopa County were made inperson on election day. Those votes went overwhelmi­ngly for Republican­s.

 ?? Matt York Associated Press ?? AN ELECTION worker verifies a ballot Nov. 10 at the Maricopa County recorder’s office in Phoenix.
Matt York Associated Press AN ELECTION worker verifies a ballot Nov. 10 at the Maricopa County recorder’s office in Phoenix.

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