Officials in a rural, Republican-controlled county in Arizona have voted to delay certifying the results of this month's midterm elections and miss the state's legal deadline of Monday, despite finding no legitimate problems with the local counts.
The move by the board of supervisors for Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, near Tucson, puts more than 47,000 Arizonans' votes at risk and is expected to set off court action. The state's secretary of state's office plans to file a lawsuit on Monday, spokesperson Sophia Solis said by email.
"There is no reason for us to delay," said the board's chair, Ann English, a Democrat, whose vote was outnumbered by the county's two Republican supervisors, Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd.
Before Monday's vote, Arizona's state election director, Kori Lorick, said in a statement that the state's secretary of state "will use all available legal remedies to compel compliance with Arizona law and protect Cochise County voters' right to have their votes counted" if the board failed to complete its "non-discretionary duty."
Board members who voted against certification would face the very real prospect of civil and criminal penalties. And in all likelihood, they would achieve nothing, as Arizona courts would almost certainly step in and order the board to abide by its legal obligations and certify the results.
But in the unlikely event that the courts didn’t intervene, the board’s gambit would only hurt the voters of Cochise County and the candidates that they support.
If the board has still refused to certify by the Dec. 5 deadline for state certification (which can be extended to Dec. 8, but no later), the law requires that the secretary of state still move ahead with the statewide canvass of results. In that case, the statewide canvass would not include the results from Cochise County, which is heavily Republican.
This mass disenfranchisement of Cochise County voters − at the hands of their own board of supervisors − could result in flipping the final results in a number of tight races, with Republican candidates and voters paying the price. For example, Republican Juan Ciscomani would likely lose his congressional race to Democrat Kirsten Engel.
That decision could prove decisive in the race for state superintendent, handing Democrats a win over their Republican opponents. This outcome would be even more likely if another heavily Republican county, such as Mohave County, followed the lead of Cochise County and likewise refused to certify.
A swing of 3,340 votes from GOP to Dem in the 5 closest House races would have allowed Dems to hold the House.— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) November 27, 2022