WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Dec. 1, an Arizona judge ruled from the bench and ordered the Cochise County Board of Supervisors to canvass the results of the 2022 midterm elections in compliance with state law. Canvassing is the process where local election officials confirm results by reviewing and finalizing the unofficial results reported on election night. On Monday, Nov. 28, two lawsuits (one by the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and one by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D)) were filed against the county after the supervisors voted 2-1 to postpone canvassing the 2022 election results due to baseless concerns about voting machines, causing the county to miss the county canvassing deadline. The lawsuits allege that the board illegally refused to perform its ministerial (meaning administrative) duty to canvass the results of the election and requested that the court order the county to canvass its results.
Soon after the lawsuits were filed, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors missed the deadline to respond to the allegations after failing to secure legal counsel. Despite the fact that the board authorized an agreement to hire Bryan Blehm, an attorney for the controversial Cyber Ninjas, it was reported that Blehm turned down the offer. Notably, the county attorney told the board on multiple occasions that refusing to certify would be illegal and he would not be able to represent the county in any legal challenges if the board refused to certify. Two hours before the hearing, the board of supervisors scheduled an emergency meeting to hire a different law firm to represent them. While the supervisors conveyed that they had since secured legal representation, the lawyer was not present at today’s hearing and the supervisors spoke on their own behalf.
At the conclusion of a hearing held this afternoon, the judge ordered the county to canvass the election results so as to not further delay statewide certification. In his ruling, the judge held that “the board exceeded its lawful authority in delaying the canvass for a reason that is not permitted by” state law and ordered the county to complete the canvass by 5 p.m. MT, finally putting an end to the board’s antics that created chaos during every turn of the 2022 election cycle. The judge repeated that the board’s duty to canvass election results is non-discretionary and mandatory.
Cochise County has been sued a total of three times in 2022 for attempting to hand count votes and refusing to certify election results. Additionally, two Republican members of the board turned on their own chair and filed a lawsuit against the single Democratic member because she “refused to comply” with the Republicans’ plan to “to conduct an expanded hand count.” Today’s order is yet another rejection of Cochise County’s relentless attempts to undermine voters and subvert elections.