November 24, 2022

Arizona board says it will follow law in partial hand count

By ANITA SNOW – Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans on a rural Arizona county council who want a full count in the upcoming midterm vote said they would follow Arizona state law allowing only partial counts following a harshly worded letter from the state’s chief electoral officer threatening legal action.

“The board wishes to follow all applicable requirements in the bylaws and election procedure manual when conducting its expanded manual precinct count audit,” read Wednesday’s letter signed by county supervisors. Cochise, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby. The third supervisor, Democrat Ann English, had voted against a full count and did not sign.

“This means that there will not be a full tally of every item on every ballot,” reads the letter the two board members sent to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the Chief Electoral Officer of the United States. Kori Lorick state after an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

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Hobbs appeared satisfied in a response on her Secretary of State’s Twitter account.

“Under Arizona law, counties hand-count ballots from a percentage of polling locations to ensure initial results are accurate,” she wrote. ballot.”

Confusion was widespread after the board voted 2-1 to approve a ‘countywide 100% manual counting audit’ of votes in the midterm elections on Monday after a chaotic meeting of several hours attended by more than 100 people. Cochise County is located in southeastern Arizona along the US-Mexico border.

Lorick said in a letter to the board on Tuesday that she had “serious concerns” about her intentions, “particularly given the lack of details” and “the fact that the election is only two weeks away.”

Lorick said a specific Arizona law cited in the measure approved for a “manual precinct count” details how such a count can be conducted and must exclude early polls which account for about 80% of the vote in Arizona. .

Board members in the heavily Republican County of Cochise came under intense pressure to allow a manual count of all ballots from voters who believed false allegations of fraud in the 2020 vote.

There is no evidence in Arizona or anywhere else in the United States that fraud, counting equipment issues, or other voting issues impacted the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Republican Kari Lake seized on Lorick’s letter to hit out at Hobbs, the Democrat she is running against for governor in the upcoming election.

Lake accused Hobbs of arrogance towards local officials ‘trying to restore faith and confidence in our elections’ and said the Cochise board had every right ‘to expand the number of statutory hands’ .

A federal judge in August dismissed a lawsuit brought by Lake and Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee to replace Hobbs as secretary of state. The lawsuit sought to force state officials to count ballots by hand in November due to unfounded allegations of problems with voting machines.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors, which oversees a largely rural area east of Phoenix, is also under pressure from voters to do a manual count.

Asked about that possibility, Pinal County District Attorney Kent Volkmer told council Wednesday that Arizona’s law requiring a manual count of precincts to verify vote-counting machines was put in place about 20 years and prohibits counties from extending them.

“Once they put these bans in place, once they put these statutory guidelines in place, we can’t go out of bounds,” Volkmer said. “So yes, it would be illegal at this point to do a full hand count.”

Pinal County Supervisor Kevin Cavanagh pressed on the issue, while acknowledging he doesn’t appear to be legally available. He asked the county attorney to return for a more detailed presentation at a meeting next week where the board will review the hand count again.

“And that would be discussion and possible action,” Cavanaugh said.

AP Writer Bob Christie contributed to this report from Phoenix.

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