The Associated Press reports, 2nd Arizona county delays certifying election, for now:
A second Republican-controlled Arizona county on Monday delayed certifying the results of this month’s election as a protest against voting issues in Maricopa County that some GOP officials have blamed for their losses in top races including the contest for governor.
The delay came as Maricopa, the state’s most populous county, finished counting the last remaining ballots and the state attorney general demanded that officials there explain Election Day problems some voters experienced.
Arizona voters elected a Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, and gave Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly a full six-year term in office. But the race for attorney general was heading to a mandatory recount once the election is certified by all 15 counties and the secretary of state. Democrat Kris Mayes ended up ahead of Republican Abraham Hamadeh by just 510 votes on Monday after Maricopa County counted about 1,200 remaining ballots. Nearly 2.6 million Arizonans voted.
The split vote by the board of supervisors in Mohave County in northwest Arizona came with an explicit vow to certify the election on the Nov. 28 deadline. Members called it a political statement to show how upset they were with the issues in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and about 60% of the the state’s voters.
The all-Republican boards of two other counties, Pinal and La Paz, voted with little fanfare Monday to certify their election results.
Mohave became the second state county to delay certification, following Cochise in Arizona’s southeast. The board there made its decision Friday without a promise to certify the results by the deadline for doing so, despite setting a meeting to consider it. Instead the two Republicans who constitute a majority on the board demanded that the secretary of state prove their vote-counting machines were legally certified.
The state elections director told them they were, but the two board members sided instead with claims put forward by a trio of men who alleged the certifications had lapsed.
On Monday, state Elections Director Kori Lorick provided the county board with certifications for the vote-counting machines from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Lorick also warned the board that the state would sue if they did not certify on time.
County boards do not have the legal right to either change the results provided by their elections officials or refuse to certify them. And Lorick wrote that if the certification is not received by the secretary of state by Dec. 5, all the Cochise County votes will go uncounted.
That would give a boost to Democrats up and down the ballot in tight state races, since some Republican candidates got as much as 60% of the vote in the county.
Actually, the law is a little more nuanced.
16-642. Canvass of election; postponements
A. The governing body holding an election shall meet and canvass the election not less than six days nor more than twenty days following the election.
* * *
C. If, at the time of the meeting of the governing body, the returns from any polling place in the election district where the polls were opened and an election held are found to be missing, the canvass shall be postponed from day to day until all the returns are received or until six postponements have been had.
In this case, there are no returns from any polling place missing, which would trigger the postponement of certification under Section C.
Two Rogue Republican Counties are simply refusing to perform their ministerial duties (“shall”) to certify the election results because Mohave County is “protesting” Maricopa County, and Cochise County is pandering to election denier conspiracy theorists.
Mohave County says it will certify by the canvass deadline. Cochise County has made no such assurances.
Section 16-647 – Declaration of election to office; delivery of certificate of election
The board of supervisors shall declare elected the person receiving the highest number of votes cast for each office to be filled by the electors of the county or a subdivision thereof, and the clerk of the board shall, unless enjoined from so doing by an order of the court, deliver to each such person, upon compliance with the provisions imposed by law upon candidates for office as conditions precedent to the issuance of such certificates, a certificate of election, signed by the clerk and authenticated with the seal of office of the board of supervisors.
There is nothing in Title 16 which expressly states that a County Board of Supervisors which fails to return a canvass of the vote to the Secretary of State by the canvass deadline shall not be counted – because no one ever conceived this possibility would ever occur in a mature democracy! But statutory logic dictates that only a certified canvass of the vote received by the Secretary of State by the canvass deadline shall be counted.
A rogue county which refuses to perform its ministerial duty to certify the canvass of the vote cannot be allowed to hold the state hostage to delay the automatic recount of two races, which will occur in December, and finalizing certification of the canvass of the vote.
This is why the Secretary of State will file a lawsuit for a writ of mandamus, and the court will issue the writ of mandamus ordering the lawless Republican Cochise County Supervisors to certify the canvass of the vote and to return it to the Secretary of State. This election will be certified and finalized.
It may be fun to speculate that two MAGA/QAnon Republican supervisors in Cochise County will disenfranchise ALL voters in Cochise County, and thus perhaps change the outcome of the CD 6 congressional race and perhaps the Superintendent of Pubic Instruction race, but this is NOT going to happen.
In Mohave County, the board and the chair of the county Republican Party praised their elections director. But Jeanne Kentch joined GOP state chair Kelli Ward in saying Republicans were disenfranchised because of issues in Maricopa County.
“Mohave County voters, their votes have been diluted,” Kentch said. “Their votes have been worth less than they were prior to this vote due to the mismanagement and the disfunction of the Maricopa County elections department.”
This is a bogus version of “vote dilution.” What she is really saying is that deep red Mohave County should not have its choices override by the largest county in Arizona, with around 62% of the vote in the state, which voted Democratic in many races. She is anti-democracy. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa County Recorder who run Maricopa’s election are all Republicans by the way.
The vote to delay the Mohave County vote canvass was not unanimous, although all five board members are Republicans. Member Jean Bishop called the decision “kind of ludicrous.”
“We’re not Maricopa County, we’re Mohave County,” she said. “Our vote is solid.”
The county board did the same after the 2020 election as former President Donald Trump pushed concerns about his loss in Arizona and pointed to Maricopa County as the source of his defeat. The board eventually accepted the results, however.
“This is 2020 redux,” board member Hildy Angius said. “If we don’t certify today, we’re just making a statement of solidarity.”
Ron Gould, a former state lawmaker, agreed that it was only a message.
“It is purely a political statement,” Gould said. “But it’s the only way that we can make that statement.”
Ron Gould personified right-wing crazy in this state long before Kelli Ward replaced him. There must be something in the water in Mohave County. Maybe the EPA should be testing the water.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, one of the two supervisors holding up Cochise County’s certification, Supervisor Peggy Judd, caved and Qconfirmed to The Arizona Republic that she intended to certify the results as required by law on Nov. 28. Cochise County official, once in doubt, now says she will vote to certify election results.