Democracy defenders vow to sue after GOP-led Arizona county refuses to certify election

Democracy defenders vow to sue after GOP-led Arizona county refuses to certify election
Former President Donald Trump with Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake at a rally in Florence, Arizona in January 2022, Gage Skidmore

Pro-democracy advocates are expected to sue a rural Arizona county after a pair of GOP officials on Monday refused to certify this month's electoral outcomes despite a complete lack of evidence of miscounting.

Heeding the calls of former President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans who have repeatedly lied about voter fraud and advocated for rejecting the popular will, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors declined to certify the results of the November 8 midterm elections in which Democratic candidates won races for governor, secretary of state, and state attorney general.

"There is no reason for us to delay," said the board's Democratic chair, Ann English, who was outnumbered by the county's two Republican supervisors, Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd.

In a 2-1 vote, the board called for "a Friday meeting to have further presentation on the accreditation of the voting machines," according toArizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl. Crosby demanded "presentations" from Democratic Secretary of State and Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs as well as "people who spoke November 18 about alleged issues with accreditation."

In the words of Democratic election attorney Marc Elias, "The only presentation Cochise is going to get is in a courtroom."

Elias, the founder of Democracy Docket, said the county "will be sued" for missing Monday's legally mandated deadline to approve the official vote tally.

Hobbs' office had previously pledged to sue if the county missed the deadline. Prior to Monday's vote, Arizona's election director, Kori Lorick, said in a statement that the 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 refused to fulfill its "nondiscretionary duty."

Following the vote, Sophia Solis, a spokesperson for Hobbs, toldThe Associated Press that "the Board of Supervisors had all of the information they needed to certify this election and failed to uphold their responsibility for Cochise voters."

According toNPR, Crosby and Judd's move jeopardizes the votes of more than 47,000 residents in the GOP-dominated jurisdiction in southeastern Arizona, near Tuscon. Solis told the news outlet that the secretary of state's office intends to file a lawsuit on Monday.

As NPR reported:

Many election watchers have been raising concerns that Republican officials may disrupt the process for making the election results official after GOP leaders in Cochise County voted on November 18 to wait to decide whether to certify the results until the legal deadline on Monday.

They cited claims about the certification of election equipment, which Lorick confirmed had been tested and properly certified. Still, Crosby and Judd have called for a meeting on Friday to discuss the claims.

In the opposite corner of Arizona, another Republican-controlled county—Mohave County—may end up following Cochise County's lead in not certifying election results. Last week, GOP officials there said they want to hold off on making a decision until Monday's deadline in order to make a political statement. They recessed their meeting Monday and are set to resume their discussion later in the day.

Elsewhere in the country on Monday, Pennsylvania's Luzerne County Board of Elections also refused to certify the midterm results.

"Certifying election results is a ministerial task," Elias tweeted. "This is what election subversion looks like in 2022."

Suggesting that another lawsuit is coming, Elias wrote on social media that right-wing board members in Luzerne County should ask their counterparts in Arizona's Cochise County "how well this ends for them."

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