WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, April 25, the Board of Supervisors in Cochise County , Arizona voted 2-1 to hire Bob Bartelsmeyer as an election director, selecting an individual who spread false claims about voting to run the county’s elections. The decision comes after several legal battles last fall when the rural Arizona county leaned into election conspiracies and a drastic change in election authority this spring.
In February, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted to transfer election authority from the Cochise County Elections Department to County Recorder David Stevens (R) after the resignation of longtime elections director Lisa Marra, who cited the “outrageous and physically and emotionally threatening” working atmosphere. Stevens pushed for an illegal hand count in fall 2022 and has called election denier and defeated secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem (R) “one of his best friends.” (Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) filed a lawsuit to stop this transfer of power, but a judge rejected that request last week.)
Now, Stevens selected Bartelsmeyer to join him in running the county’s elections. Bartelsmeyer has experience administering elections in La Paz, Arizona and other jurisdictions over the past several decades. On Facebook, Bartelsmeyer has shared false claims about voter fraud, electronic tabulator machines and that former President Donald Trump legally won the 2020 presidential election. “It certainly is scary for me to think about someone coming in to take over an elections system that hasn’t had any problems, with an attitude that elections in the past haven’t been fair,” Ann English, the lone Democratic supervisor who voted against Bartelsmeyer’s hiring, told Votebeat.
During the 2022 election cycle, the Republican members on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors tried to push the county to conduct a 100% hand count of election results, including early ballots, prompting a lawsuit. The two Republican supervisors personally sued Marra to compel her to execute their potentially illegal plan. A few weeks later, the same two supervisors purposefully missed their legally mandated deadline to canvass county-level election results after the November 2022 election, throwing the certification of Arizona’s statewide results into chaos before lawsuits stepped in.