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Officials in a rural, Republican-controlled Arizona county voted to delay certifying the results of this month’s midterm elections and missed the state’s legal deadline Monday, despite finding no legal problems with local counts.
The move by the Cochise County Board of Supervisors in southeastern Arizona, near Tucson, puts more than 47,000 Arizonans’ votes at risk and is expected to trigger a lawsuit.
“There’s no reason to delay,” said the board’s chairwoman, Anne English, a Democrat whose vote was trumped by the county’s two Republican supervisors, Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, Arizona State Elections Director Corey Lorick said in a statement that the state’s secretary of state “will use all available legal remedies to enforce Arizona law and protect the right of voters of Cochise County to have their votes counted’ if the board failed to fulfill its ‘non-discretionary duty’.
Many election observers have expressed concern that Republican officials could disrupt the process for official election results after Cochise County GOP leaders voted Nov. 18 to wait to decide whether to certify the results until Monday’s legal deadline.
They cited allegations regarding the certification of optional equipment, which Lorick confirmed had been tested and properly certified. Still, Crosby and Judd called a meeting Friday to discuss the allegations.
In the opposite corner of Arizona, another Republican-controlled county — Mojave County — may follow Cochise County’s lead by not certifying election results. Last week, GOP officials there said they wanted to delay a decision until Monday’s deadline to make a policy statement. They adjourned their meeting on Monday and will resume their discussion later in the day.
The controversy over local vote certification comes as Republicans continue to criticize the election administration in Arizona’s Maricopa County, the state’s largest county and home to Phoenix. Maricopa Republican leadership defended the election and said no voters were disenfranchised as a result of technical issues. Still, GOP candidates for governor and attorney general questioned the results and sought more information after electronic vote-counting tabulators malfunctioned early on Election Day at some of the county’s polling places.