Cochise County certifies election results after judge orders canvass
GOP Supervisor Tom Crosby refused to attend emergency meeting
After being ordered to do so by a judge just 90 minutes earlier, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday afternoon to certify its election results.
Earlier Thursday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ordered the supervisors to meet at 3:30 p.m. to certify the canvass of their county’s midterm election results after they failed to do so by the Nov. 28 deadline. Missing that deadline prompted Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and an advocacy group to file separate lawsuits to force the county to certify the election.
McGinely told the board, who was not represented by an attorney after the county attorney refused to defend the supervisors, that in missing the deadline it had “exceeded its lawful authority.”
"You will meet today; you will canvass the election no later than 5 o'clock," the judge emphasized.
Republican Supervisor Peggy Judd said at the emergency board meeting that she couldn’t bring herself to make the motion to certify the election results herself, but voted in favor of it when Chairwoman Ann English made the motion. During previous meetings, Judd and Tom Crosby, who refused to attend the canvass, both voted to delay election certification.
The pair had previously said they refused to certify the election results based on the false belief that the electronic tabulators the county uses have not been certified under state and federal law.
But Crosby acknowledged in court on Thursday that wasn’t true, telling the judge that the supervisors had only failed to certify the election results by the deadline because the certification hadn’t been properly put on the agenda for the Nov. 28 board meeting and that the supervisors fully intended to certify the results during a meeting set for Friday morning.
That explanation was different than what Judd told national media outlets this week. She told both the New York Times and the Daily Beast that the delay in certifying the election — past the statutory deadline — was a form of protest against Election Day problems that happened in Maricopa County.
Judd remained defiant Thursday afternoon, even as she voted to canvass the election.
“I can’t say enough about how important this effort is that we made and I am not ashamed of anything that I did,” Judd said.
Judd added that she felt she must vote to certify the election because of the court order, saying she believes in the rule of law, and because of the impact of some health issues she’s been experiencing.
“I know I’m going to disappoint a lot of people and I’m going to make a lot of people happy,” Judd said.
English said she was glad the county had given a voice to those with concerns about the midterm election, but advised those with gripes about election law to take up their fight with the state legislature, which creates the laws that govern elections.
“It’s time for us to move forward to issues that impact Cochise County beyond the election,” English said.
In ordering the board to certify the election, McGinley said that state law is explicitly clear that the board has a nondiscretionary duty to canvass the election and has no statutory authority to reject the results.
A county board can only delay the canvass beyond the deadline, on a day-to-day basis, if some of the results are missing. But none of the supervisors in Cochise County had claimed that any of their results are missing, giving them no justification for failing to meet the deadline for approving the election results.
Secretary of State and Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs filed suit against the supervisors Monday, the same day they voted not to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election by the deadline set by state law.
Only about two hours before the 1 p.m. court hearing, the supervisors approved hiring Daniel McCauley, a Cave Creek attorney, to represent them. But McCauley never filed a notice with the court that he would be representing the board, and he did not show up in court.
Crosby stumbled through an attempt to represent himself in court, asking for the hearing to be rescheduled for next week to give McCauley time to prepare, but McGinley denied that request.
Lawyers for the Secretary of State’s Office and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, both plaintiffs in the case, argued that there was too much at stake to grant the supervisors more time since the secretary of state, governor, attorney general and chief of the state supreme court are all set to certify the state election results on Dec. 5. Although the state canvass can legally be delayed until Dec. 8, Hobbs’ attorney said it would be impossible to do so because the state officials required by law to attend were only available on Dec. 5.
McGinley initially favored allowing the board to canvass the election on Friday — something the board had already intended to do, Crosby and Judd told him. But English asked him to order them to meet Thursday because the Republican commissioners weren’t simply planning to meet to approve the election.
English said the meeting agenda, which had been made public earlier, included “sort of a smack down between the Secretary of State and election deniers that (Crosby) has on the agenda.”
The supervisors planned to give the election deniers 12 minutes each to state their cases and then would give the secretary of state a chance to respond to their claims, before a vote to certify the election results. Set to speak during the meeting were Paul Rice, Daniel Wood and Brian Stein, who are all 2020 Maricopa County election deniers. Then Crosby, who sets the board’s agenda, had time set aside for the Secretary of State’s Office to make its case for why the election was valid.
“I think it’s a circus that doesn’t need to have to happen,” English said. “I’ve had enough. I think the public has had enough. So, I’m asking the court for a swift resolution.”
The lawyer representing the Secretary of State’s Office, Andy Ganoa, added that the office had “no intention of participating in such a charade.”
This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.