Cochise County certifies 2022 election after judge's order

Latest updates

December 1

9:00 p.m.

We spoke with Cochise County Supervisor Ann English, who said the developments today marks the end of a long, and in her opinion, unnecessary situation.

"I had a hard time understanding why we couldn’t move forward in Cochise county, instead of trying to make a national statement," said English, who is the only Democrat on the Board.

English was initially the only person who voted in favor of canvassing.

"There was a lot at stake, and not just Cochise County, but the election system in Arizona," said English. "I wanted to make sure we were a part of it. My voters wanted to make sure we were a part of it, and we seemed to be holding it back."

English urged the judge for a swift resolution.

"Today I was frantic, thinking, ‘I don’t know what else we can do. The judge has to act at this point,’" said English. "For me, it was black or white. You just don’t break the law. It became a Republican/Democrat issue when it never should have."

4:23 p.m.

Cochise County has certified the 2022 Election by court order. Cochise was the only county to not canvass the election by the November 28 deadline. This ends an unprecedented week-long legal saga.

Our current Secretary of State and next governor, Katie Hobbs, said in a tweet, "This is a win for Arizona's democracy and ensures all Arizonans will have their votes counted."

Even though the judge mandated the county supervisors meet to canvass the election, one of the three still didn't show up.

After a recess, the judge was clear.

"You will meet today, and you will canvass this election no later than 5 o'clock."

Cochise County supervisors, without an attorney, were mandated to canvass the 2022 election.

After two supervisors brought up concerns with Maricopa County's elections and tabulator certification last month, the board did not meet their legal requirement to canvass by November 28.

The Secretary of State's office sued the board to canvass. Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has been overseas at the World Cup, has become a focus of both sides asking for more.

Former AG Terry Goddard and former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley wrote a letter, demanding Brnovich investigate the supervisors.

When asked if he believed if they will face criminal charges, Romley replied, "That would be up to the prosecutors, but I think at least on its face from what we know today, there appears to be a violation of state law and that can lead to criminal charges of a class 6 felony."

On Thursday morning, the board met to hire an attorney at just hours before their court hearing. Supervisor Ann English is the only member who has voted yes to canvass.

"We have no legal representation two hours before we're supposed to appear in court," she said.

Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby hired a Cave Creek attorney.

"I'm okay with doing it. I feel it's better than doing nothing," said Judd.

The attorney didn't make it in time and the board was required to represent themselves.

"This hearing is going forward today," said the judge.

At the emergency county meeting ordered by the judge, Crosby did not show up. Judd said she was voting yes because the judge said she must.

"Good luck to our county and world and keep fighting, and I'm not done fighting.. I couldn't even make the motion."

In the end, it was canvassed.

To add to all the back and forths today, the attorney the board hired and didn't show up to the hearing in time, petitioned for the case to be moved to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arizona, but that court doesn't exist.

4:11 p.m.

After garnering statewide attention over a controversial attempt to hand count all ballots for the 2022 election, Cochise County has certified its election results after being ordered by a judge to do so by 5 p.m. on Dec. 1. The county was facing a lawsuit from Arizona's Secretary of State for refusing to certify election results.

Katie Hobbs filed suit Monday, as did a local voter and a group of retirees, arguing the supervisors are required by law to certify the election, a process formally known as a canvass. Hobbs says she is required to hold the statewide certification on Dec. 5 and by law can delay it only until Dec. 8.

A lawyer representing Hobbs, Andy Gaona, said in court Thursday that scheduling conflicts may make it impossible to get the secretary of state, governor, attorney general and chief justice into one room for the statewide certification, as required by law, if it’s delayed past Monday.

Hobbs, a Democrat who was elected governor in November’s election, has warned that she may have to certify results without numbers from Cochise County if they aren’t received in time, an outcome that could tip the balance of several close races. The county’s 47,000 votes went overwhelmingly to Republicans.

The board members represented themselves in court after struggling to find someone willing to take the cases. The elected county attorney, who normally represents the board in legal disputes, refused to handle the cases, saying the supervisors acted illegally. The board voted hours before the hearing to hire a Phoenix-area attorney, but he was not able to get up to speed before the hearing and did not inform the court he was representing the supervisors.

Judge Casey McGinley declined to delay the hearing, saying the supervisors had plenty of warning they would need an attorney and delays would be problematic. He ordered the board to convene by 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time and complete the certification by 5 p.m.

Cochise County certified the election results just before 4 p.m.

Days before the election, the Republican supervisors abandoned plans to hand count all ballots, which the court said would be illegal, but demanded last week that the secretary of state prove vote-counting machines were legally certified before they would approve the election results. On Monday, they said they wanted to hear again about those concerns before taking a vote on certification. A meeting is scheduled for that purpose on Friday.

Supervisor Ann English, the board’s lone Democrat, urged the judge to order the board to immediately certify the election. She said Republican board member Tom Crosby is trying to stage a "smackdown between the secretary of state and the election deniers."

"I think it’s a circus that doesn’t need to have to happen," English said. "So I’ve had enough. I think the public’s had enough. So I’m asking for a swift resolution of this if that’s possible."

There are two companies that are accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to conduct testing and certification of voting equipment, such as the electronic tabulators used in Arizona to read and count ballots.

Conspiracy theories surrounding this process surfaced in early 2021, focused on what appeared to be an outdated accreditation certificate for one of the companies that was posted online. Federal officials investigated and reported that an administrative error had resulted in the agency failing to reissue an updated certificate as the company remained in good standing and underwent audits in 2018 and in early 2021.

Officials also noted federal law dictates the only way a testing company can lose certification is for the commission to revoke it, which did not occur.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

November 28

Republican officials in Cochise County refused Monday to certify the 2022 election despite no evidence of anything wrong with the count, a decision that was quickly challenged in court by the state’s top election official.

The refusal to certify by the rural southeastern Arizona county comes amid pressure from prominent Republicans to reject results showing Democrats winning top races.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who narrowly won the race for governor, asked a judge to order county officials to canvass the election, which she said is an obligation under Arizona law. Lawyers representing a Cochise County voter and a group of retirees filed a similar lawsuit Monday, the deadline for counties to approve the official tally of votes, known as the canvass.

The two Republican county supervisors delayed the canvass vote until Friday, when they want to hear once more about concerns over the certification of ballot tabulators, though election officials have repeatedly said the equipment is properly approved.

State Elections Director Kori Lorick wrote in a letter last week that Hobbs is required by law to approve the statewide canvass by next week and will have to exclude Cochise County’s votes if they aren’t received in time.

MORE: Arizona Secretary of State sues Cochise County over refusal to certify election results

That would threaten to flip the victor in at least two close races — a U.S. House seat and state schools chief — from a Republican to a Democrat.

Hobbs’ lawsuit asks the Cochise County Superior Court to order officials to certify by Thursday. Failing to certify would undermine the will of the county’s voters "and sow further confusion and doubt about the integrity of Arizona’s election system," lawyers for Hobbs wrote.

"The Board of Supervisors had all of the information they needed to certify this election and failed to uphold their responsibility for Cochise voters," Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for Hobbs, said in an email.

Arizona law requires county officials to approve the election canvass, and lawyers in several counties warned Republican supervisors they could face criminal charges for failing to carry out their obligations.

Arizona was long a GOP stronghold, but this month Democrats won most of the highest profile races over Republicans who aggressively promoted Trump’s 2020 election lies. Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for governor who lost to Hobbs, and Mark Finchem, the candidate for secretary of state, have refused to acknowledge their losses.

They blame Republican election officials in Maricopa County, the state’s largest, including metro Phoenix, for a problem with some ballot printers. Officials in Maricopa County said everyone had a chance to vote and all legal ballots were counted.

Navajo, a rural Republican-leaning county, and Coconino, which is staunchly Democratic, voted to certify on Monday. In conservative Mohave and Yavapai counties, supervisors voted to canvass the results despite their own misgivings and several dozen speakers urging them not to.

"Delaying this vote again will only prolong the agony without actually changing anything," said Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius, a Republican. The county last week delayed its certification vote to register a protest against voting issues in Maricopa County.

In Cochise County, GOP supervisors abandoned plans to hand count all ballots, which a court said would be illegal, but demanded last week that the secretary of state prove vote-counting machines were legally certified before they would approve the election results. On Monday, they said they wanted to hear again about those concerns.

There are two companies that are accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to conduct testing and certification of voting equipment, such as the electronic tabulators used in Arizona to read and count ballots.

Conspiracy theories surrounding this process surfaced in early 2021, focused on what appeared to be an outdated accreditation certificate for one of the companies that was posted online. Federal officials investigated and reported that an administrative error had resulted in the agency failing to reissue an updated certificate as the company remained in good standing and underwent audits in 2018 and in early 2021.

November 19

Cochise County has delayed certifying the results of last week’s vote after hearing from a trio of conspiracy theorists who alleged that counting machines were not certified.

The move is the latest drama in the Republican-heavy county in recent weeks, which started when GOP board members Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd voted to have all the ballots in last week’s election counted by hand to determine if the machine counts were accurate.

Crosby also defended a lawsuit he and Judd filed against the county elections director earlier this week seeking to force the hand-count. They dropped the case against Lisa Marra on Wednesday.

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

Read more here. 

November 16

Two Republicans who control the board in a rural southeastern Arizona county on Wednesday told a judge they want to withdraw a lawsuit they had filed just two days prior that sought to force their own elections director to hand-count all the ballots cast in-person on Election Day.

The court filing and one of the GOP supervisors in Cochise County said they did not want to interfere with the likely recount in the race for Arizona attorney general. Democrat Kris Mayes was leading Republican Abraham Hamadeh by well under the recount margin as of late Wednesday afternoon.

The Legislature this year changed the state’s election recount law to greatly increase the threshold for mandatory recounts. It now requires a recount when the candidates are within .5% of each other. In the attorney general race, the trigger is about 12,500 votes.

Supervisor Peggy Judd told The Associated Press that she agreed to withdraw the lawsuit against Elections Director Lisa Marra that she and Supervisor Tom Crosby filed on Monday because they did not want to disrupt the statewide recount. That will be triggered once the state accepts the election certifications from all 15 Arizona counties and the statewide vote-totals are accepted.

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

Marra’s attorney, Christina Estes-Werther, said she expects a fast decision from the Pima County judge who is hearing the case.

Crosby and Judd wanted to hand-count all 12,000 Election Day ballots and the approximately 32,000 that were cast early. But in a ruling prompted by a lawsuit filed by a retiree group, a judge said that state law bars expanding the normal 1% hand-count audit of early ballots. He said any expansion of the 2% of Election Day ballots normally tallied to test vote-counting machine accuracy had to be random.

Judd and Crosby then proposed counting 99% of all Election Day ballots, then settled on those from 16 of the county’s 17 voting sites. The Republican elected county prosecutor told them they would be committing a felony if they tried to take the ballots from Marra, who refused to go along.

Judd said Wednesday that she wanted to end the battle with Marra and let her proceed with her job.

"We’re trying to make nice with her," Judd said. "She’s really been afraid of us for a while."

Judd said a machine recount of the attorney general race — and potentially others — will achieve most of what their full hand-count was designed to do.

"I think we’ve done all the damage or good — I’m not saying that was all damage, I think there was some good that came out of this," Judd said. "But we’ve done all that we can."

The Cochise County hand-count fight had threatened to delay the required statewide certification set for Dec. 5. A recount will come after that official canvass and could take until the end of the year.

November 15

The two Republicans who control the Board of Supervisors have sued their own elections director to force her to conduct a greatly expanded hand count of ballots cast in the Nov. 8 election, a standoff that could affect certification of the results.

They want Cochise County Elections Director Lisa Marra to hand over the roughly 12,000 ballots cast on Election Day to the county recorder, an elected Republican. The county’s attorney warned the private lawyers representing the two GOP board members that taking ballots without authorization could subject their clients to felony charges.

The Republicans’ lawsuit, filed late Monday, comes a week after a judge blocked the board from hand-counting all ballots cast during early voting but also gave them space to pursue a wider hand count. The judge said state law allows the county to expand the small hand count used for the official audit that is designed to confirm the accuracy of vote-counting machines, if it’s done randomly.

After the ruling, Republican board member board Peggy Judd proposed an expansion of the hand count to as many as 99% of the Election Day ballots, although that proposal has now been slightly trimmed. The lawsuit filed by attorneys for Judd and the other GOP board member, Tom Crosby, said they hope to hand count four races on all ballots from 16 of the county’s 17 vote centers.

Their lawsuit against the county elections director says she refused their order to either do the expanded count herself or hand the ballots over to Republican county Recorder David Stevens so he can do the tally. It seeks an order compelling her to turn over the ballots.

Upping the stakes, the lawsuit contends the Republican board members have concluded that the expanded hand count is "necessary to ensure completeness and accuracy before certifying the election." The county’s certified results must be received by the Secretary of State no later than Nov. 28.

That means time is short to get a court ruling, pull about 12,000 Election Day ballots from the director’s possession and gather the more than 200 volunteers Stevens has said he has ready to do the hand count. Another 32,000 ballots were cast early.

If the county misses the certification deadline, the Secretary of State’s office or a candidate could go to court and ask a judge to force the board to certify the results. The deadline is in state law, and election rules based on that law say county officials must certify and cannot change the results.

The lawsuit also says County Attorney Brian McIntyre "has made clear that he will prosecute any attempt by the Board and Recorder to exercise their lawful authority to take custody of the ballots to complete an expanded hand count themselves."

At a raucous board meeting on Nov. 15, several members of the public berated the two Republicans on the three-member board for pursuing the hand count. One called a board member a "demagogue" who is "making a disgusting sham" of the democratic process.

November 11

The board of supervisors in a southern Arizona county will meet next week to consider counting nearly all the ballots cast in-person on Election Day, despite an earlier court order limiting the hand-count driven by unfounded distrust in machines that tabulate votes.

The actual count may start before Tuesday’s planned meeting of the Cochise County board, and the local prosecutor is warning starting it at any time may lead to criminal charges.

The moves come just days after a judge ruled that state law bars expanding the normal small hand-count audit of early ballots. He also ruled that a 100% hand-count of Election Day ballots is illegal because any expansion for precincts chosen for those reviews must be picked at random.

The Republican-dominated Cochise County board is taking that part of the order literally, proposing to expand the count to 99.9% of the ballots cast on Election Day, apparently to meet the random standard.

Elected County Attorney Brian McIntyre told the board and its lawyers in a Thursday letter that going forward with the plan could lead to felony charges against the participants for violating numerous laws.

"I have alerted the appropriate authorities to the potential violations based on the statements of two elected officials connected to this," McIntyre wrote. "It is my sincere hope that no action will be required of them and that the rule of law will prevail."

November 7

The Associated Press is reporting that a judge has blocked the hand-count of early ballots in Cochise County.

Today's ruling from Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley came after a full-day hearing on Friday in which opponents spoke out against the proposal.

McGinley said the county board of supervisors overstepped its legal authority by ordering the county recorder to count all the ballots cast in the election that concludes on Tuesday rather than the small sample required by state law. 

McGinley wrote state election laws lay out a detailed procedure for randomly choosing which Election Day ballots are chosen for the hand-count.

"This entire process would be rendered superfluous if the court were to construe (that section) to initially select 100% of the precinct ballots as its starting point," the judge wrote. 

The lawsuit only challenged a full hand-count of an estimated 30,000 early ballots, but the ruling appears to block a full hand-count of both the early ballots and those cast on Election Day. 

An appeal of the judge's decision is likely.

November 5

A southern Arizona judge heard from a parade of witnesses Friday in a case brought by opponents of an unusual plan driven by local officials who question the accuracy of ballot-counting machines and want to hand-count all the ballots in the election that concludes next week.

Among those taking the stand was an elected Republican official in rural Cochise County who has agreed to take over the county election director’s normal job of conducting a post-election audit of the vote count by hand — this time expanding it from a small effort using a sample of ballots to a massive one covering four races on about 40,000 ballots.

The elections director testified that she faces a potential felony if implementing the plan ends up violating the law.

Cochise County Recorder David Stevens was grilled in court by lawyers representing a retiree group suing to block the effort. He defended the plan, which is highly unusual and stands as nearly unprecedented in the state.

Stevens said he plans to start the hand-count after voting ends Tuesday and use more than 250 volunteers he’s recruited from three political parties, although the group is heavily tilted towards registered Republicans. He vowed to follow the law that lays out rules for the much-smaller hand-count audits done to check machine vote-counting equipment. But he acknowledged he’s bypassing the county elections director, who by law oversees the process and is responsible for securely holding the ballots.

And responding to questions from the lawyer for the Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans, Lalitha Madduri, Stevens said he planned to count an estimated 30,000 early ballots despite provisions in the law that limit early ballot hand-count audits to 1% or 5,000 ballots, whatever is less, and that they be randomly selected. That bars a full hand-count of the early votes, she said.

Stevens said the Cochise County board of supervisors had voted on the plan and authorized him to conduct the count.

"The court will decide if it’s legal or not," he said. "But they did vote — it was a two-to-one vote — they voted for me to do this and a 100% count."

The two Republican supervisors who voted to do the 100% hand-count rather than the small sample done in every other election were pushed to do so by people who believe former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that fraud or counting problems with voting machines led to his loss in 2020. The lone Democrat on the board opposed the hand-count.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley, who is hearing the case in Bisbee after the local county court declared a conflict, is charged with deciding whether the detailed state law on hand-count audits allows the county board of supervisors to expand it to all early ballots. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, contends only a sample of early ballots can be counted under state law.

McGinley said after a day-long hearing that the lawyers representing the county supervisors and Stevens on one side and Elections Director Lisa Marra and the retiree group on the other had provided so much information there was no way he would rule from the bench.

Instead, he promised a ruling first thing Monday morning and said he fully expected whoever lost would immediately appeal.

"There’s far too much information that’s been presented today," McGinley said. "Far too much important testimony, far too much important argument, and quite honestly, far too important a question for this court to rush to an answer in an effort to get it done by 5 o’clock today."

Marra is charged with performing the post-election audits, and testified that she faces a potential felony charge for breaking election law if rules Stevens devises stray outside the law. She also said handing the ballots over to Stevens would break the secure chain of custody for ballots and that expanding the count jeopardizes meeting a Nov. 18 certification deadline.

Attorneys for the retiree group Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans argued that the law does not allow a full hand-count of early ballots, although it does for those ballots cast in-person on Election Day.

And Stephani Stephenson, who lives in the small Cochise County community of St. David and is the named plaintiff in the case, testified that she feared a rushed and abnormal process would potentially jeopardize her vote. She said she has faith in the current system.

"I know that people have worked years to come up with a process," Stephenson said. "And then suddenly if my county is going down this other road, at this point, no, I do not trust that."

McGinley questioned Stevens about the normal recount rules and focused on a section of the election rules written by the secretary of state that allows counties to expand the hand-count at their discretion, which appears nowhere in the law. And he wondered how rules on the acceptable margins of error between hand-count audits would apply to a full recount.

Stevens said his view was that a full hand-count needs no margin and that whatever that count turned out to be would be the one that was officially certified. That runs counter to what the board discussed when it decided to do a full hand-count as a test of the official machine count.

November 1

A group called Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans has filed a lawsuit against Supervisors Tom Crosby, Ann English and Peggy Judd, as well as County Recorder David Stevens and County Elections Director Lisa Marra, over the hand-count audit.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent a full early ballot audit, and seeks to force the defendants to "conduct hand-count audits of early ballots only in accordance with statutory procedures and the [Elections Procedures Manual]."

The lawsuit also seeks to force a judge to declare the planned audit violates Arizona law.

October 28

An informal opinion issued by the Arizona Attorney General's Office states that the Board of Supervisors can proceed with an expanded hand count audit of all ballots cast in all precincts within the county.

At the same time, however, the audit is limited to five competitive races.

"If the board chooses to conduct a hand count audit of five statewide and federal races for the 2022 General Election, the Board should choose, by random lot, two contested races for statewide office, one statewide ballot measure, one contested race for federal office, and one contested race for state legislative office," a portion of the informal opinion reads.

Ann English said the board discussed how to proceed again with a full hand count during a work session.

October 26

The Republicans on a rural Arizona county board that wanted to conduct a full hand count in the upcoming midterm vote have clarified they will follow Arizona state law allowing only partial hand counts following a harshly worded letter from the state’s election director who threatened legal action.

"The Board wishes to follow all applicable requirements in statutes and the Elections Procedure Manual when conducting its expanded precinct hand count audit," reads the Wednesday letter signed by Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby. The third supervisor, Democrat Ann English, had voted against a full hand count and did not sign.

No firm decisions about how the hand-count will work was made during an emergency meeting that was held this afternoon.

The meeting came amid a 5:00 p.m. ultimatum set by state elections officials for the county supervisors to spell out their plans for hand-counting some ballots.

The county's Recorder, David Stevens, explains that under current statute, they are not limited to only hand-counting 2% of the ballots.

"There's a line in the procedures manual that states counties may elect to audit a higher number of ballots at their discretion, so that's the part that's gonna be up to debate, what is their discretion?" said Stevens.

County officials also issued a letter to Hobbs, assuring her that statutes will not be violated. Hobbs' office has acknowledged that they have received the letter, adding that they will stay in contact with the county to ensure the process complies with the law. 

Hobbs appeared satisfied in a response on her secretary of state Twitter account.

"Under Arizona law, counties hand count ballots from a percentage of voting locations to ensure initial results are accurate," she wrote. "Cochise County clarified that they voted to expand this audit and will not attempt an unlawful hand count of every race on every ballot."

A working session is set to take place on Friday to discuss how they are going to do the hand-count audit, while abiding by current statutes.

October 25

Arizona's top state elections office ordered the Cochise County Board of Supervisors to spell out in writing exactly how it plans to tally ballots in the midterm elections.

Confusion over just what the board did during their meeting on Oct. 25 remain widespread a day later, with the action described by detractors and supporters alike as a full hand count.

The letter from the Secretary of State’s office said it had "serious concerns" about the board’s intentions "particularly considering the lack of any details" and "the fact that the election is just two weeks away."

The letter, dated Oct. 25 and signed by State Elections Director Kori Lorick, said the board’s response must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 26, or "the Secretary will deem the Board’s silence to be an admission that it is threatening to proceed without or in excess of jurisdiction or legal authority."

Lorick said a specific Arizona statute cited in the measure approved for a "precinct hand count" details rules on how such a count can be carried out. For example early ballots, which comprise about 80% of votes in Arizona, cannot be included, Lorick said.

Supervisor Ann English spoke out about the current situation, in a phone interview.

"I’m not sure how they hope to accomplish it. It’s sad that we have gotten to this state, and I know that they had an issue that they wanted to bring forward, but I’m not sure. We shouldn’t have gotten to this place instead of going to the people at the Legislature, who could actually give them the relief that they are asking for, and it being legal," said English.

County Supervisor Peggy Judd, meanwhile, continues to maintain her position that a hand count will improve confidence in the election system.

"‘I don’t see -- I still don’t see this legal or illegal, by the way, as something that’s going to hurt our election process, because it is going to happen completely afterward. It's going to happen on her terms," said Judd.

"There’s a large group that wants to do it. I have no problem double-checking what we do, so it depends on who shows up to do it, how you prep the positions to go forward," said County Recorder David Stevens. "[The cost is minimal] because they’re volunteers. My knowledge of it is that they are volunteers. I have no problem paying them."

An emergency Board of Supervisors meeting is set to take place on Oct. 26 to discuss how to move forward. The supervisors could either decide to continue with the hand-cout and face a potentially costly lawsuit, or drop the idea altogether.

October 24

A Board of Supervisors meeting was held to discuss the proposal. During the meeting, people supporting and opposing the proposal came to speak out.

"I support a 100% hand count of ballots," said one person.

"[This] not only risks instilling chaos and confusion, but will waste taxpayer resources and threaten both accurate counting of votes and a timely certification of election results," said an opponent of the proposal.

The county's attorney, Republican Brian McIntyre, called the original plan for a full hand-count alongside the machine count unlawful. 

"I implore you not to attempt to order this separate hand-count," said McIntyre, who went on to say that such action would be unlawful and supervisors could be held personally liable in a civil action.

Supervisors Judd and Crosby (R), who had proposed the full hand-count alongside the regular machine count, ultimately joined a unanimous vote against their proposal after an hours-long meeting.

Judd and Crosby were joined by the third supervisor, English, a Democrat who had encouraged her colleagues to rethink their stance. She had argued that the county’s insurance would not protect it from expected lawsuits.

After backing off from the first proposal, the supervisors then voted 2-1 on a second one, with English dissenting, for a hand-count audit in all precincts to be organized by the county recorder or other elections official to assure agreement with the machine count.

Official results posted would only be from the machine count.

McIntyre also called the hand-count audit plan unlawful.

October 21

We first reported on a proposal by two Cochise County Supervisors - Judd and Tom Crosby - to do a full hand-count of votes alongside the regular machine count.

Judd, a Republican, said they are not changing election procedures for voters. She said the whole point is to restore public faith in the election system.

"People have lost confidence over the last 10 years or so in elections, and I think it's because we've taken it out of the people's hands and into computers," said Judd.

It has been reported that Judd and Crosby were under intense pressure from voters who believe Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud in the 2020 election. There’s no evidence in Arizona or elsewhere in the United States that fraud, problems with ballot-counting equipment or other voting issues had any impact on the results of the 2020 election.

This has been an ongoing debate over the past several weeks, and it started when a conservative group went to the board of supervisors wanting a hand count for the midterm election.

Currently, the county is required to hand count 2% of the ballots, but it requires the use of Republican and Democratic volunteers.

Stevens said there simply would not have been enough time to do only a hand count.

"They were looking to tabulate the 2022 General Election by hand, during the election, that has now migrated to, machine tabulate now, and then we are required by law to do an audit hand count after we've done the machine tabulation," Stevens said. "They want to increase that 2% hand count to 100%."

In response to the proposal, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor in the November election, said a hand count should only be used if the equipment becomes impractical. She also threatened to take legal action against the county.

"Cochise County plans to vote to hand count every single race on every single ballot—w/ Election Day just 18 days away & early voting already started. That’s illegal & risks the integrity & accuracy of the election. I’ve warned them: If they proceed, I’ll take legal action," Arizona Secretary of State and governor candidate Katie Hobbs tweeted on Oct. 21.

RELATED: Maricopa County voting machines undergo routine 'logic and accuracy test' ahead of midterm elections

Hobbs also said the plan could "potentially violate Arizona’s requirement that results not be provided publicly until after the polls close on Election Day."

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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