Arizona Edition

In Arizona, Cochise County delays election certification as Maricopa County officials face threats


PHOENIX—As elected officials in Arizona’s most populous county met to approve the results of the midterm elections on Monday, they were jeered, called “traitors,” and their handling of the vote was “violent.” A Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy oversaw what was once a monotonous procedural move.

About 200 miles away, the governing board of a small ruby-red county in the southeastern corner of Arizona voted 2 to 1 to delay the certification of results, ignoring the deadline set by state law and ruling out the results. It could have jeopardized the state’s timeline for making a final decision. .

In the opposite corner of the state, the leaders of another Republican-controlled county thought the same thing and were held off until the afternoon to weigh their options, but finally voted to prove the results. .

In Arizona, about one-third have problems with the ink in their ballot printers. Polling places in the Phoenix area have fueled unproven allegations that Republicans stole the election, and Monday’s events not only demonstrated the depth of mistrust in state election administration, but also the Republican nominee. and elected officials willing to sanction, and even arouse, that distrust.

Recent elections have intensified skepticism about the democratic process in Arizona. Earlier this month, voters chose Democrats over Republicans in the most important elections. The Attorney General’s race, which led Democrats with 510 of the more than 2.5 million votes cast, was automatically recounted.

Under Arizona law, Monday is the deadline for all counties to complete a process known as election solicitation, and Republican activists pressured county leaders not to do so.

In 14 of Arizona’s 15 counties, top leaders obeyed the law and approved the election results. The exception is Cochise County, where the Board of Supervisors is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the state. There is no precedent for the resulting uncertainty in the state’s process of finalizing results and ensuring successful candidates are seated in January.

“We broke the law by not getting the election certification required by Arizona law by November 28,” said Cochise County’s only Democratic superintendent, Anne English. Two of his Republican supervisors who supported the postponement did not respond to requests for comment. County attorneys also did not respond.

Republican leaders in Mojave County, located in the northwest corner of the state, considered doing the same, but ultimately, albeit reluctantly, followed the law.

Republican Speaker Ron Gould said, “I’m forced to vote yes. I learned today that I have no choice but to vote yes or get arrested and charged with a felony.”

Arizona wasn’t the only state to see sporadic efforts to block recognition of election results. Officials in Luzern County, Pennsylvania, who ran out of ballots on Election Day, failed to meet Monday’s certification deadline by failing by one vote to abstain in a 2-2 vote.

The decision that Cochise County had passed its certification deadline was filed the same day by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat. I was planning on going to court. If the county denies this, it will call into question tens of thousands of votes and, perhaps, the Republican projected victory for the House seat and the statewide race for school superintendent.

Arizona officials planned to certify the state’s election results on December 5. Under state law, he can defer certification until Dec. 8, the attorney said. If Cochise County continues to hold certification, it is unclear how the votes recorded there will be reflected in state tallies.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mark Brunovich (Republican) has not publicly indicated how the state will handle the looming deadline to certify results. Brnovic’s office said Maricopa County (home to Phoenix and home to more than half of the state’s voters) may have violated statutory guidelines in administering the election due to widespread problems with ballot printers. suggests that there is

A spokesperson for Brnovic did not respond to multiple questions from the Washington Post about how he plans to address the witness certification obligation. I will do the work of,” he told the Post. A spokesman for Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel said the judge will attend the state’s certification ceremony “as required by law.”

Kari Lake, a failed Republican gubernatorial candidate, has refused to acknowledge, pointing to problems with Maricopa County’s printers that require voters to wait in line or deposit their ballots in a safe drawer. A mechanical glitch prevented anyone from voting, county officials said in a report Sunday in which the attorney general’s office responded to charges of possible violations. reached the same conclusion, dismissing Republican requests to extend voting hours on Election Day.

Lake, a former TV news anchor, shared a clip of her supporters denouncing Maricopa County officials at an oversight board meeting on Monday. Their request for the board to delay certification was ignored. Five members, including four Republicans, voted unanimously Approve the election canvas.

The vote culminated in a remarkable five-hour meeting, with a large crowd gathered in the hearing room, offering prayers and taunting county officials. “You guys represent evil,” one speaker told county leaders.

In public testimony, residents shared their Election Day experiences. I had experience as a voter, as well as as a poll worker and observer. A man who worked as a poll worker described problems with electronic check-in books that caused some voters to leave the polling place. One of the site’s tallyers said he heard indirectly that ballots were rejected in tests on the eve of the election.

Vitriol, directed to the county commission, included allegations that its members had committed “treason punishable by death.” The woman who dismissed the charges added, quoting John F. Kennedy in 1962, “He who makes peaceful revolution impossible requires violent revolution.”

Others invoked Bible verses and higher powers, some warning the Council that God would bring justice in the Hereafter. “We will walk through the bloody fields of slaughtered wicked men,” one woman told the board. will know.”

A cry of “Amen” rose from the crowd. About 200 people attended the meeting, which packed the boardroom in downtown Phoenix, sometimes facing warnings that they would be ejected if they continued to interrupt the proceedings by shouting. Some directed their anger at the Maricopa County Record Clerk, Republican Stephen Richer, who is in charge of early voting and voter registration. Others pointed their grievances at the board, which has been at the forefront of efforts to protect the county’s electoral integrity since Trump targeted the nation’s second-largest voting jurisdiction in 2020. rice field.

The majority of citizens left the meeting as two county election officials began their presentations to the board. Board members said he spent more than an hour responding to the spread of false information surrounding the Nov. 8 election.

One of the directors, Scott Jarrett, said the problem with printers on Election Day was that the ink was too thin to be read by on-site counters. These ballots were instead read by county tabulators in downtown Phoenix.

But the root cause of the problem with printers used in the 2022 primary and 2020 cycle remained a mystery as of Monday. According to Jarrett, one of the only changes in the November 8 election was the ballot size, the longest in the county’s history. Given the number of races in a two-sided ballot, election officials chose to use a 20-inch ballot. This is an inch longer than the ballot paper used in the primary election. County officials could have elected to provide voters with two ballots, but Jarrett previously said his use of two ballots caused voter confusion.

The county has two printer brands, isolating almost all Oki printers headquartered in Japan. The county is testing 10 of these printers, and committee members say they will seek an independent review to determine what went wrong.

Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, the only Democrat on the board, was visibly outraged when the board moved toward a vote to prove the results. Voices rose, accusing Lake and her supporters of spreading misinformation about the election on social media, and saying election officials under intense public pressure should be applauded for their work. rice field.

“This is a perfect example of Kari Lake not wanting to tell voters the truth,” Gallardo said. He said the election was “safe, secure and accurate.” “Everyone had the right to exercise their most basic right, the right to vote. And when there are people throwing stones at the system but not wanting to tell voters the truth? No. Shame on her!

Republican Commissioner Bill Gates acknowledged the problem, saying the printer failure didn’t stop people from voting. “There has never been a perfect election, and this time it wasn’t a perfect election,” Gates said. “There was an issue, but we were transparent about it. ”

Stanley-Becker reported from Washington. Patrick Marley of Madison, Wisconsin contributed to this report.

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