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Arizona AG loses argument to keep Cochise County interim Elections Director out for now

“A good example is when the Legislature put Governor Brewer's tax on the ballot,” La Sota said. “They specifically said that if you're a city that contracts with a county to conduct an election, you have to make sure this tax is listed first on the ballot. So this , I think the Legislature clearly recognizes that these types of agreements happen all the time.”

La Sota cited Cochise County's May 16 special election and argued that issuing an injunction against the agreement would do more harm than good.

“Courts have long frowned upon making changes in the middle of an election process,” La Sota said. “Even though it may be offensive, illegal, unconstitutional, actually trying to intervene and provide relief can cause further damage…There is an election going on right now, and that The damages that may result are: Potentially more significant than those that are being imposed.”

This agreement is allowed to stand for now. Lasota said the board plans to decide on a candidate for the position of elections director next week.

background

A complaint filed April 5 by the Arizona Attorney General's Office states that the commission's agreement with the county recorder “has no legal basis and undermines the right of Cochise County residents to have elections legally and transparently conducted.” It is threatening.''

“The State has taken this action to prevent and correct these harms,” ​​the motion reads. “However, the court cannot ring the county's voter bell once the defendants begin implementing the agreement and begin exercising (or relinquishing) its powers under the agreement in connection with the upcoming special election.'' The State respectfully requests that the court preemptively restrain the defendant from implementing the agreement.''

The lawsuit began on February 28th.[https://news.azpm.org/s/96238-cochise-county-recorder-to-head-elections/], when the Cochise County Board of Supervisors approved the agreement with Recorder Stevens by a 2-1 vote. Republican Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd voted in favor, while Democratic Supervisor Ann English voted against.

This prompted a lawsuit from Arizona Attorney General Mays, filed on March 7, stating that the agreement the commission entered into with Recorder Stevens was “the election powers and duties vested by statute in the Cochise County Recorder.'' The purpose is to give nearly all of the money to the Cochise County Recorder.” County Board of Supervisors. ”

According to the filing, the attorney general argued that through the agreement, the county recorder unlawfully increased his authority and that the commission unlawfully handed over statutory duties related to elections to the recorder.

According to the agreement, the county recorder has the authority to appoint an election administrator. The agreement also specifies that the appointment requires board approval.

Cochise County Administrator Richard Kaluwatka said during a special Valentine's Day meeting that prior to the drafting and approval of the agreement, election administration and administration functions had been delegated to the county administrator by the Board of Supervisors.

The agreement would take control over the elections department away from the county administrator, a nonpartisan county official appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

But this wasn't the first time the board had been sued by the state over elections.

2022 Election

In November, then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sued the commission for refusing to hold the 2022 general election by the state's Nov. 28 deadline.

Directors Crosby and Judd, who make up the board's Republican majority, stalled deliberations over baseless claims from voters that vote tabulation machines were rigged.

At the Nov. 18 meeting, then-election director Cori Rorick said the voting machines had been tested and proven accurate.

“The equipment used in Cochise County is properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements,” Rorick said. “Claims that SLI laboratories are not properly accredited are false.”

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