WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Nov. 21, the office of the Arizona secretary of state sent a letter to the Cochise County Board of Supervisors warning the board that if they failed to certify the canvass of the 2022 midterm elections, the office “will take all available legal action, including filing a special action to compel the Board’s compliance.” Last Friday night, the board of supervisors in Cochise County — a red, rural county in Arizona — voted to delay canvassing (meaning tabulating, double checking and transmitting results to the state) the election results based on conspiratorial beliefs about voting machines. During the meeting, members of the public and some of the supervisors pointed to concerns about the accreditation of certain election equipment, a process conducted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) under the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
In response to this delay, the letter, sent by the state elections director Kori Lorick, notes that conducting a canvass is a “non-discretionary duty under Arizona law” and a “purely ministerial act.” Lorick also requested that the EAC respond to the specific concerns of the supervisors. In an attached letter, the interim executive director of the EAC confirmed that the equipment used in Cochise County was properly accredited.
Under Arizona law, county boards have 20 days after an election to canvass; if Cochise County refuses to do so by Nov. 28, the Arizona secretary of state will take legal action. Yesterday, the board of supervisors in Mohave County, Arizona also voted to delay the county’s canvass until Nov. 28; the supervisors have indicated that they intend to certify then, but are delaying the effort as a political statement over their concerns with how elections are run in Maricopa County, the largest county in the state. In June, a similar incident played out in New Mexico: After a rural county refused to certify its primary election results, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) asked the courts to step in and the New Mexico Supreme Court swiftly ordered the rogue county commissioners to fulfill their statutory duties.
Cochise County has already been the focus this election over its attempts to conduct expanded hand counting procedures in violation of Arizona law. The supervisors ultimately gave up on the plan after internal disagreements with a county attorney and concerns over legal fees.