The Associated Press reports, 2 [GQP] county supervisors officials vote against, then OK hand-count of ballots in vioation of Arizona law:
The two Republicans on the Cochise County board of supervisors approved a proposal 2-1 Monday for a hand-count of all ballots in the Nov. 8 election after rejecting a differently worded motion during a chaotic meeting.
[Election Denier] Cochise County Supervisor Peggy Judd [convinced her fellow Republican County Supervisor] Tom Crosby voted for the measure after rejecting a first proposal that mentioned 100 volunteers who had already been vetted and trained for the hand count. The third board member, chairwoman Ann English, is a Democrat who voted against both proposals, arguing that the country’s insurance would not protect it from expected lawsuits.
“I implore you not to attempt to order this separate hand-count,” said County Attorney Brian McIntyre, a Republican. He said such action would be unlawful and supervisors could be held personally liable in a civil action. [He means you, Peggy Judd.]
The Arizona Republic adds:
State Elections Services Director Kori Lorick called into the meeting on behalf of the Secretary of State’s Office and said the board would face a lawsuit if the hand-count proposal passed. A state lawmaker also warned the board that he would request that the attorney general investigate the board’s move, which could result in the withholding of state funds to Cochise County.
Lorick also said it would be “impossible to complete an accurate hand count of an election with dozens of races on the ballot without redirecting critical resources needed to run the election.”
With just two weeks until the election, she warned the proposal would cause voter confusion.
“Attempting to implement a full hand count at this late stage would jeopardize the county’s ability to conduct a fair and accurate election,” Lorick said.
[L]orick maintained that the [voting] machines are federally and state certified. She also said the state conducts pre- and post-election logic and accuracy testing, and post-election limited hand count audits.
A spokesperson from the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool also called into the meeting. He told supervisors it would be “improper” to expect other counties to pay Cochise County’s attorney bills in the face of a lawsuit. He warned supervisors that the county would not have insurance to count on and would not have an attorney hired for them.
“It would be up to the county to make these proper decisions as how they would defend any lawsuits. In my experience there will be lawsuits over this, no matter what you do in this situation there will be lawsuits,” he said.
Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre has said repeatedly that the proposal is unlawful. He reiterated that no authorization for a separate hand count exists in law. He also said county employees cannot be asked to violate the law, “even if you conclude what the law reads despite my advice.”
He pointed out that every other county in the state has reached the same conclusion, including Pinal County.
Before voting for the measure, Judd said that despite the legal advice she was unlikely to change her mind.
“I’d like to take this chance. My heart and my work has been in it and I don’t want to back down. I might go to jail,” she said about the proposal. [Let’s hope so.]
The Republicans were under intense pressure from [MAGA/QAnon]voters in the heavily Republican county who [delusionally] believe Donald Trump’s [Big Lie] of fraud in the 2020 election.
“The Cochise County Supervisors are clearly manufacturing a scenario to delay the certification of Arizona’s election results,” said Natali Fierros Bock, member of a coalition of voting rights advocates in Arizona. “Election denying politicians have been signaling that election disrupting tactics like the one seen today in Cochise County would be part of their strategy to overwhelm the work of our elections officials.”
“These tactics are irresponsible, dangerous, and in some cases, very clearly against the law,” she said.
The first proposal that was rejected said that volunteers “are wishing to take part in this way to help people (including a few of the participants) who have lost trust in elections to see that elections are reliable and secure in our county.”
The measure that was approved calls for a hand-count audit in all precincts to be organized by the county recorder or other elections official to assure agreement with the machine count. McIntyre also called that plan unlawful.
Under state law, a small percentage of ballots in selected races already go through a mandatory hand-count with bipartisan teams to check the accuracy of vote-counting machines after all the votes are counted.
More discussion on the matter was expected to come up at another county board meeting Tuesday morning.
Higher Stakes: Ahead of 2pm mtg of Cochise County Board on hand counting ballots, GOP lawmaker threatens to file complaint vs @CochiseCountyAZ that could result in financial penalty. AZ SoS has already threatened to file lawsuit. https://t.co/q2Y4ab8M7F
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) October 24, 2022
[A] federal judge in August dismissed a lawsuit by Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor, and Mark Finchem, Republican nominee for secretary of state, to require the state’s officials to count ballots by hand in November because of unfounded claims of voting machine problems.
There’s no evidence in Arizona or elsewhere in the United States that fraud, problems with ballot-counting equipment or other voting issues had any impact on the results of the 2020 election.
In Cochise County, Recorder David Stevens, also a Republican, has said that with a hand-count there could raise concerns about the results being illegally leaked before they are legally posted at 8 p.m. on Election Day. The county had about 62,000 votes cast in the 2020 general election.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat running for governor whose office oversees state elections, in a letter urged the board to abandon its effort to mandate a hand-count, agreeing that it would be unlawful.
“If the Board votes to proceed with a full count — putting at risk the accuracy and integrity of our elections — the Secretary will take all available legal action to ensure that Cochise County conducts the 2022 General Election in compliance with Arizona law,” said the letter, suggesting the board members voting in favor could be personally liable for their actions.
“We are all stewards of taxpayer dollars, and taxpayers should not bear the burden of the Board’s contemplated actions,” it added. “We sincerely hope such action is unnecessary and the Board will follow the advice of its own attorney.”
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona and the Department of Justice Voting Rights Section really need to get their shit together and get busy prosecuting these election denier officials who are intentionally undermining public confidence in elections, and possibly subverting election results with their wild-eyed insane conspiracy theories and insider threats from the MAGA/QAnon cultists.
UPDATE: The Sierra Vista Herald reports on Tuesday’s Board meeting. Despite chance of lawsuit, Supervisors Judd, Crosby call for ballot hand count:
“I implore you not to attempt to order this hand count.”
So said Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre during a special Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, Oct. 24, to discuss a hand count of all ballots cast for the upcoming election.
His recommendation was ignored, as was the notice from Secretary of State Election Director Kori Lorick, who threatened the county with a lawsuit for requiring a hand count of 100% of all the ballots cast in the upcoming General Election.
However, the supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of a ballot hand count.
The Cochise BOS made the correct decision to reject a full hand count of all ballots. There are still serious questions about the agenda item they did approve. If they don’t provide assurances they’ll proceed in compliance w/ the law by 5pm, we’ll see them in court. pic.twitter.com/3CUZJUH7cF
— Governor Katie Hobbs (@GovernorHobbs) October 25, 2022
This is a 5:00 p.m. deadline on Wednesday, October 28.
The board will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m. in their meeting room at the Melody Lane complex to address a letter from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who threatened a complaint would be filed concerning the hand-count decision.
They will also discuss options to hire outside legal counsel for Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby. Judd and Crosby voted in favor of the 100% hand count even with the knowledge the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool would not pay their legal fees or fines. McIntyre said they could not order the staff to participate as it is an illegal action.
Note: The Board’s insurance policy does not cover illegal action. Cochise County taxpayers should not be asked to pay the legal expenses for these rogue supervisors. They will be held individually liable for their criminal actions, and that should include their attorney fees and costs.
If there is no county response by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, Hobbs “will deem the board’s silence to be an admission that it is threatening to proceed without or in excess of jurisdiction and legal authority.”
Lisa Marra, county elections director, told the Herald/Review on Tuesday, “As County Attorney McIntyre clearly stated, as did Chief Civil Deputy Roberts previously, employees cannot be forced to perform work that is illegal. I stand by their legal decision.”
[Supervisor] English warned [Supervisors] Judd and Crosby at the beginning of the meeting about the illegalities of their requests and told them the county would not foot the bill for their defense.
Lorick called in to reiterate what she stated in a letter to the supervisors — they were breaking the law and a suit would be filed.
“Arizona has rigorous standards in place to ensure that electronic voting systems used in our elections are secure and accurate, including federal and state certification requirements, pre– and post–election logic and accuracy testing and post–election limited hand count audits,” Lorick said.
She further stated hand counts raise numerous concerns and are prone to human error.
Lorick maintained that the machines are federally and state certified, in answer to those who suggested the laboratories doing the certifications were not.
“Attempting to implement a full hand count at this late stage would jeopardize the county’s ability to conduct a fair and accurate election,” Lorick said.
The Arizona Counties Insurance Pool participated via phone, supporting the warnings given to Judd and Crosby by the County Attorney’s office. There will be no taxpayer money used to pay attorney fees if a lawsuit is filed. The spokesperson suggested it is probable that lawsuits will be filled no matter what they do.
League of Women’s Voters President Pinny Sheoran urged them to vote no to stop “this illegal practice. It’s a recipe for inaccuracy and fraud.”
* * *
Tuesday, Lockin sent the board another letter, this time stating, “A full hand count would not only be illegal, but would also have undermined the orderly administration of this election and would raise serious security and ballot chain of custody concerns, cause voter confusion in the middle of early voting mere weeks before Election Day, and threaten the county’s ability to timely canvass the elections as required by law.”
She noted the supervisors only had the powers given to it through statute, which does not include anything but a random sampling hand count audit.
She provided the statutes for doing a hand count. “The precinct hand count audit must be conducted by representatives of the political parties entitled to representation on the state ballot through a process that requires the cooperation of those political parties. The audit ‘shall not proceed’ unless the political parties provide the recorder or other officer in charge of elections with ‘a sufficient number of persons’ by 5 p.m. on the Thursday preceding the election and a sufficient number of persons arrive to perform the hand count. For the hand count to proceed, not more than 75% of the persons performing the hand count shall be from the same political party. The precinct hand count must be completed in time for the county to meet its statutory canvass deadline.”
Should Judd and Crosby ignore her request to halt further action on hand counting ballots, the next step of Secretary of State Hobbs will be to formally take legal action through the Attorney General’s Office, including the filing of a special action to compel the county’s compliance.
UPDATE: MAGA surrender: Cochise County backtracks on proposal for full hand-count of ballots in midterm election.
UPDATE: Our partisan hack attorney general’s office gives these two rogue Republican Supervisors a pass to violate Arizona law. IOKIYAR.
See “informal” Opinion (???) signed by Deputy Solicitor General Michael S. Catlett, to state Sen. David Gowan.
Catlett should be disbarred I WORKED at AG ofc, JFC this Sol.Gen. cant read the law correctly This is the law At least 2 % of the precincts in that county, or two precincts, whichever is greater, shall be selected at random from a pool consisting of every precinct in that county.
— Sheri #WomenWarriorsVote (@SlayerAZ) October 29, 2022
The Sierra Vista Herald editorializes, Our View: Standing up for democracy in Cochise County:
The assault on American democracy has come to Cochise County.
Monday’s vote by county Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby to mandate a hand counting of all ballots cast in this year’s general election is the latest salvo in the fight to damage, undermine and ultimately discredit our electoral process.
This move is a direct attack against Cochise County voters, election workers and everyone else who believes in a fair and functional vote.
Those who support the hand-count scheme claim the only purpose for such a move is to make sure all votes are counted fairly and accurately.
That’s hogwash, plain and simple.
Numerous studies have shown that hand counting of ballots is more susceptible than machine counts to error, with human fatigue, biases and other factors all playing a role in the higher rate of mistakes that come along with a manual tally.
Election equipment in Cochise County, as well as across the state and nation, are subjected to a battery of tests to ensure the technology is ready and able to count the millions of ballots that will be cast nationwide.
Furthermore, a sampling of ballots are already counted by hand each election, per state law, as another check against the accuracy of voting machines.
A full ballot hand count opens up the potential for voters’ personal information to be mishandled or even purposefully exposed.
Unofficial ballot counts could also be leaked by unscrupulous ballot counters, a risk highlighted by County Recorder David Stevens, a Republican, during Monday’s meeting.
County Attorney Brian McIntyre, another Republican, also reiterated at the meeting that moving to a full hand counting would be “unlawful.”
The practicality of actually counting the tens of thousands of votes in a timely fashion is also brought into question, along with the cost and required manpower to do so. About 65,000 ballots were cast in the 2020 election.
Hand counting that many ballots would cause a delay in results on Election Day not only for local races, but also statewide and federal races, again casting doubt on the process.
However, it is clear that Supervisors Judd and Crosby care little for facts, the law or the integrity of our election process.
Instead, the pair have chosen to follow the playbook laid out at the national and state levels to cause confusion, distrust and chaos in our democratic processes as revenge for the 45th president’s failed re-election bid.
Since the 2020 election, we have seen more attacks on the fabric of the democratic process in America, including the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, numerous threats against election and other officials (including here in Cochise County) and so-called “drop box monitors” intimidating voters seeking to return their early ballots.
And let’s not forget Cochise County Republican Party Chairman Robert Montgomery, who attempted to subvert the 2020 election results as one of 11 fake electors who proclaimed Trump the winner of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, despite Joe Biden winning the state by more than 10,000 votes.
All of these actions add up to a bigger picture that we must view with clear eyes. There are individuals and organizations in this country that are actively seeking to dismantle the election process and strip away the voting rights of millions of Americans.
And that’s the whole point: question and criticize everything until the voters believe nothing.
Crosby and Judd have signaled their support for this movement with their recent decision. It is the latest step to cast doubt on every aspect of our voting process until all faith in the system has been annihilated.
The two supervisors know that there were no issues with ballot counting or the election process in general in Cochise County during the 2020 canvas. Their decision to move forward with an illegal hand count is driven by ideology alone, not a desire to restore election integrity.
The American democracy that was first formed nearly 250 years ago and has stood as a symbol to the world ever since is in serious jeopardy. And now there are individuals, including Judd and Crosby right here in Cochise County, who are pushing our nation to the brink.
We call upon the voters of Cochise County to see this ploy for what it really is: another attempt to disenfranchise you and devalue your vote and the entire election process. We cannot allow our democratic process to be hijacked any further.
We encourage everyone who is concerned about these attacks on democracy to attend Wednesday’s emergency meeting at 1 p.m., or contact supervisors Crosby and Judd at 520-432-9200 or by email, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell them to reconsider their illegal, dangerous plan to hand count ballots in Cochise County.
UPDATE: Supervisors Judd and Crosby smacked down by the court. Judge blocks Cochise County plan for full hand count of ballots (excerpt):
A judge ruled Monday that Cochise County cannot conduct a hand count of all ballots cast in the midterm election, saying that it is not legal in Arizona.
Breaking: Judge blocks full hand count of ballots in Cochise County. Says they can't do full count of those cast in-person, can't do full count of early ballots. pic.twitter.com/Ok8YRQwH2A
— Jen Fifield (@JenAFifield) November 7, 2022
The decision blocks, for now, the latest effort by GOP leaders to hand-count ballots, a method experts say is slower and less accurate than machine counts. Republicans nationwide have nonetheless pushed hand counts in the wake of the 2020 election, saying they distrust the security and accuracy of vote-counting machines even after multiple court reviews and investigations across the country found that machines tallied the votes accurately. A hand count ordered by one Nevada county ran into problems last month.
[P]ima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley wrote Monday that the supervisors had no authority to order the full count.
He said state law requires counties to start the audit by randomly selecting ballots to examine out of those cast in-person on Election Day, and it’s not possible to randomly select ballots when examining all ballots. For ballots cast early, he wrote in his order, the counties must examine a pre-set sample size, not all of them. He directed the county recorder and elections director to proceed with the more limited hand-count audit outlined in state law.
The Cochise County effort is strikingly reminiscent of the full recount of Maricopa County’s 2020 presidential election. Some of the lawyers defending the process are even the same, as is the stated goal: to improve voter confidence. Like Maricopa’s audit, it also features partisan leaders who have been spurred on by conspiracy theories and are inexperienced at election best practices; it would receive outside resources; and it has lacked public transparency.
The difference here is that the partisan review in Maricopa County happened long after results were certified, with no chance of affecting the outcome. This one would happen before the results are certified, which could have delayed the process or prompted a messy dispute over results.
The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, a civil rights group, and a Cochise County resident sued to block the expanded audit, arguing it was illegal. Lawyers from Elias Law — the firm founded by Marc Elias, who typically represents Democrats and often litigates voting rights cases — argued for the plaintiffs. The secretary of state’s office also said it wasn’t permitted under the law and threatened to sue, but ultimately just filed a brief in the case in support of the hand count opponents.
The ruling halts the hand count for now, but McGinley said Friday he expects his decision to be appealed. If appealed, the court would need to address the matter quickly, since state law says the audit must start within 24 hours after the polls close
Assistant Secretary of State Allie Bones called the judge’s decision Monday “a win for Arizona’s voters.”
“Drastic changes to election processes, especially during an election, would create chaos and confusion,” Bones wrote.