Arizona County Board Delays Certifying Election Results, Cite Uncertified Counting Machines

The board overseeing a county in a county in Southeastern Arizona recently delayed certifying the results of last week’s vote after being contacted by individuals who claimed that counting machines were not certified. Republican leaders had hoped all Election Day ballots would be calculated by last week. 

Three men have filed at least four cases with similar claims before the Supreme Court of Arizona since 2021 to have the 2020 election results disqualified. The court dismissed the cases for waiting too long after the election was certified, asking for relief that could not be granted, or for lack of evidence. 

However, Brian Steiner, Daniel Wood, and Tom Rice persuaded the Cochise County board of supervisors to look into their claims and delay certification until November 28.

The men claimed the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission had allowed certifications for the companies in charge of the testing to lapse, which resulted in voiding the certifications of vote tabulation equipment in use across the state. 

However, the state elections director testified that the testing company and machines were indeed certified. 

“The equipment used in Cochise County is properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements. The claims that the SLI testing labs were not properly accredited are false,” Kori Lorick, state Elections Director, told the board. 

The delay is only the most recent drama in the GOP-heavy county in recent weeks. It began when Republican board members Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby voted to have all ballots in last week’s election hand-counted to determine if the machine counts were accurate. 

Crosby also stood by a lawsuit he and Judd had filed against the county elections director earlier in the week to force the hand count. 

“If our presenters’ request is met by proof that our machines are indeed legally and lawfully accredited, then indeed we should accept the results. However, if the machines have not been lawfully certificated, then the converse is also true. We cannot verify this election now,” said Crosby.

Judd and Crosby then voted to delay certification, with Crosby saying he believed Steiner, Rice, and Wood needed to be provided proof because they were “the experts.”

The delay could jeopardize state certification, scheduled for December 5, along with at least one statewide recount.

Director Lorick issued a statement following the vote vowing a legal fight to force the board to accept the county’s results. Under state law, the elected county boards cannot change the formal election canvass. They receive and accept the vote count as elections departments tally it. 

“If they fail to do so, the Secretary (of State) will use all available legal remedies to compel compliance with Arizona law and protect Cochise County voters’ rights to have their votes counted,” said Lorick.

At least one mandatory Arizona recount on the horizon

All 15 counties in Arizona face the same November 28 deadline. Once Arizona certifies the results on December 5, there will be a recount in at least one race. 

That race, between Democrat Kris Mayes and Republican Abraham Hamadeh for attorney general, is close enough a recount is certain. A recent tally showed Mayes led by fewer than 600 votes, with fewer ballots left to be counted than the margin for a mandatory recount, amounting to around 12,500 votes. 

“It’s going to be close, and every vote matters. And obviously, we’re headed into a recount, one way or another,” said Mayes.

Another statewide race is also within the recount margin. However, incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman already conceded to Republican challenger Tom Horne. Horne is a former chief of schools who served two years as attorney general before losing in the primary in 2014. 

Horne had promised to shut down any hint of “critical race theory” and criticized Hoffman for embracing progressive teaching. 

Judd recently said she would move to clear the way for a state recount. 

“We’ve had to step back from everything we were trying to do and say, OK, we’ve got to let this play out. Because it’s the last thing we want to do to get in (Marra’s) way,” said Judd. 

Recount laws in Arizona were recently changed. The previous margin for a mandatory recount was 1/10 of 1%. The margin is now 0.5%.

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