ARIZONA, November 28, 2022–Monday is the deadline for Arizona’s 15 counties to report results of the Nov. 8 election to the Secretary of State’s Office.
For most of the 110 years since Arizona became the nation’s 48th state, canvass day was a routine marker — the day that put a period to the tallying in most counties. This year, at least two state races are heading to an official recount, and several questions and challenges linger from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the state Republican Party and from some candidates themselves.
Monday is the deadline for counties to certify election results, and Cochise is not meeting again on election matters until Friday.
Whether anyone will pursue criminal charges is unclear, but it is likely Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office will refer the matter to state or county prosecutors.
The law in question says any public official who refuses to carry out election law, or who knowingly violates law related to elections, is subject to a Class 6 felony.
Such a felony, the lowest possible, is subject to fines and jail time that could range from four months to two years in prison. However, there is prosecutorial discretion, which could result in a smaller penalty if the supervisors are found guilty, attorney Jim Barton said.
Barton practices political and government relationslawin the Phoenix area.
“If you’re an elected official, you’re not above the law,” he said.
Maricopa County Certify November 8th Results
Maricopa County’s five supervisors voted unanimously to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election after a tense four-hour public meeting filled with outbursts from the audience.
In closing remarks, supervisors stressed that the election was secure and accurate. Chairman Bill Gates said county officials are committed to a transparent election.
“This was not a perfect election,” he said. “There were issues. But we were transparent about that.”
Mohave November 8th Election Certification
Mohave County supervisors reconvened at 2 p.m. and with little discussion voted 4-0 to canvass their election.
Supervisor Hildy Angius said she spent the recess talking with constituents, her congressman, Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, and even some candidates and came to realize she had no choice other than either to certify the election or essentially void the county’s votes in the state canvass. That would “certainly disenfranchise” voters, she said.
Chairman Ron Gould shared similar resentment that he felt forced to certify the election.
“I vote aye under duress,” Gould said. “I found out today that I have no choice but to vote aye or I’ll be arrested and charged with a felony. I don’t think that’s what our founders had in mind when they used the democratic process to elect our leaders, our form of self-governance. I find that very disheartening.”
Mohave County supervisors on Monday morning considered delaying their election canvass until they can get more information, but delayed the vote until the afternoon.
Last week the supervisors voted to delay the canvass in what they called a political statement to show their frustration with what they said were problems in Maricopa County. When they met Monday to canvass on the last day allowed by law, they considered a longer delay.
But Deputy County Attorney Jeff Haws told the supervisors that if they delayed their vote beyond Monday, it could trigger legal action to compel the county to certify the election. And if that were not successful, the state canvass could move ahead Dec. 5 without the votes from Mohave County.
That would mean county judges, treasurer and others could not be seated in January.
They recessed their meeting and planned to reconvene at 2 p.m.
Secretary of State To File Lawsuit
With 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties certifying the election so far, the Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed it will file a legal action by the end of the day to force at least one county, Cochise, to certify its results.
The Cochise County supervisors voted 2-1 to delay past the Monday deadline to canvass their county’s election, while Maricopa was still preparing to vote on its election and Mohave officials had delayed a decision until later in the day.
The Secretary of State’s office previously said it would file a legal action to compel wayward counties to follow the law and affirmed that Monday after the decision in Bisbee by the Cochise supervisors.
If the county’s election is not canvassed by Dec. 5, the statewide canvass will move ahead without the missing county or counties’ votes, the Secretary of State’s Office has said.
People who attended the Cochise County meeting Monday were confused by the decision and what it means.
Doug Whitney, a Sierra Vista resident, said he was confused about what happened.
“They were supposed to certify, and they tabled it so that there is going to be apparently a debate of sorts,” Whitney said.
He referred to a Nov. 21 letter from the Secretary of State saying that if the board still has not certified by the Nov. 28 deadline it would disenfranchise Cochise County voters. The letter also says that the state canvass will proceed regardless of the results of the vote, as required under state law.
“The board of supervisors is playing a big game of chicken with the Secretary of State. The letter said they would disenfranchise Cochise County voters,” Whitney said.
Christine Rhodes, former county recorder, was present at the meeting and said it was “bizarre.”
“I have to admit I don’t fully understand the procedures that went on today. I suppose the bottom line is the certification of the results of the general election did not take place,” Rhodes said, adding that she works from the Democratic party.
Bisbee resident David Penrose just had one question about the meeting and that was about Supervisor Peggy Judd who called in through video conference.
“Why couldn’t Peggy Judd be here and face the public instead of hiding behind her computer?” he asked.
Barbara Logelin, a Sierra Vista resident, supported Crosby’s proposal to table the vote certifying the elections until a future meeting.
“This is an issue that needs to be discussed further. They need to look at those voting machines all around this state before they certify any of the elections,” she said.
Cochise County Certification Delay
On a 2-1 vote, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted to delay certification of the Nov. 8 election results. The decision means the county won’t meet its deadline to report results to the state.
Instead, they are calling for a Friday special meeting with presentations from the Arizona secretary of state and a collection of people who earlier this month complained about problems with the accreditation of the firms that certify election tabulation machines.
The vote comes after Supervisor Peggy Judd last week said she would certify election results, noting she found no problems with the county’s tabulation machines. On Sunday, she wavered, saying she had more questions.
The Friday meeting, proposed by Supervisor Tom Crosby, could be a reprise of a Nov. 18 meeting at which three men who don’t live in Cochise County alleged the firms that verify election tabulation machines weren’t properly accredited. The Secretary of State’s Office has provided information to rebut those claims, but the supervisors remain suspicious.
The failure to certify on Monday could bring threatened legal action from the secretary of state as well as from national groups.
Maricopa Count Board Of Supervisors Allowed November 8th Inaccuracies
Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said Monday that Maricopa County will review the troubles it had on Election Day.
“We will do everything we can to make sure this does not happen in future elections,” he said.
Printers used at Maricopa County polling sites on Election Day were tested in advance and used the same settings as in previous elections, according to election officials.
Nevertheless, a total of 31% of the county’s vote centers had problems with printers producing ballots too light to be read by on-site tabulators on Election Day. About 1% of total ballots cast ultimately couldn’t be counted at polling sites by those machines, officials said, but were later tallied at the county’s elections center.
Officials said they first heard of the problems at 6:20 a.m., minutes after the polls opened. Election workers were actively implementing a settings change to solve the problem by 11:30 a.m., they said Monday.
The commentary largely echoed that of a November 16th meeting, where anger and disappointment over the midterm elections was on full display. During public comment, speakers called county leaders “traitors,” “evil” and “vote traffickers.”
One said “violent revolution” was needed when peaceful processes like voting fail and another asked whether Supervisor Clint Hickman, whose family owns Hickman’s Family Farms, had “another chicken farm to burn down.”
Election officials across the country have faced a wave of violent threats since the 2020 election. In Arizona, that harassment has caused some to leave their posts.
Some speakers were well-known figures within right-wing circles. Those addressing the board included Ben Bergquam of Real America’s Voice, a conservative television network, and podcaster Joe Oltmann of Colorado. Both repeatedly have suggested that the 2020 election was rigged.
“If you certify today, the only thing you’ll be certifying is your own corruption,” Bergquam said to applause.
Maricopa County Board Of Supervisors Rejected Subpoena
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has rejected a legislative subpoena seeking information about the Nov. 8 election, saying it wasn’t “properly issued.”
Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Apache Junction, issued the subpoena that was served to the county on Wednesday, adding another legal layer to concerns by some Republicans over Election Day problems with ballot readers at the polls.
She demanded that the lengthy, multifaceted list of questions for the county be answered by 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Bill Gates, the board’s chairman, told Townsend in a letter dated Nov. 27 that while the county would provide some of her requested information about the election, the subpoena didn’t provide a “reasonable” time for a response and wasn’t “tethered to a hearing” by the Senate. That meant the document did not “meet the legal requirements of an enforceable legislative subpoena,” he said.
While the county was compiling some of the answers to her “massive” requests, he added, “more than” 10 of her 31 numbered requests in the document asked for items outside the scope of a lawful legislative subpoena.
Townsend questioned the county’s response on Monday, noting that she had previously been told to file a public records request for the information by the county. She disagrees and said lawyers she spoke with disagree, that the subpoena wasn’t lawfully issued. She would be “more than happy” to hold a Senate hearing if that’s what the county requires, she said.
More than 100 people gathered outside Maricopa County’s board chambers Monday as county officials prepared to begin certifying election results.
Some in the crowd held flags and signs; others wore clothing supporting former President Donald Trump. Those at the front of the security line mocked journalists as they were ushered in by law enforcement officers. Some of the people unhappy with election were allowed into the auditorium.
The meeting auditorium, usually close to empty at most board meetings, was fully packed when the board meeting began about 10 a.m.
Source: AZ Central contributed to the article.