PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s Republican attorney general has issued an opinion that county officials can vote in the Nov. 8 election, a move that will give at least two counties that have been calling for hand counts. of Republican officials gave the green light.
Efforts to count votes by hand are motivated by unfounded concerns Among some Republicans, problems with counting machines or voter fraud have led to former President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat.
A new attorney general opinion led two Republicans on Cochise County’s three-person board of supervisors to step up their plans to manually count some races in early and Election Day voting. They have pledged to cut back their efforts on Wednesday.
Under state law, both Democratic and Republican local leaders must provide hundreds of volunteers to count.
At a heated meeting on Friday, Democratic director Ann English said she would do everything in her power to prevent the county Democratic chair from supplying the workers.
“My best hope is that, if I have any authority, I can in any way convince the Cochise County Democratic chair not to hand over this fiasco, and that would be my intention,” English said. “Because, I think, we talk about this every day and then people are thinking ‘what’s wrong with our election.'”
The comments came after Republican Supervisor Peggy Judd said she wanted to move on, with Republican Supervisor Tom Crosby vehemently speaking out against English’s opposition and efforts to halt the full count.
“I can talk about how it’s going to be done, but all you have to do is make it impossible,” Crosby said. “So, I’m not interested in that discussion — I’m interested in the discussion of how it’s done.”
Cochise County Democrats submitted a query to the state Saturday about whether they would send volunteers to expand hand counts. Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Morgan Dick said party officials were consulting with their attorneys on the issue.
The county party did post on its Facebook page Saturday that they were “very disappointed with yesterday’s circus meeting.”
“Judd, Crosby and (County Recorder David) Stevens are bent on appeasing the deniers of the MAGA election rather than doing what’s right for our county,” the post continued.
The lot size will be done along with the machine number, which will be used for legal results.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office issued an informal opinion Friday as the committee has been battling Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She warned officials there against expanding the required small hand count to all races, as it would be illegal. Hobbs, the state’s top election official, is running for governor.
Hobbs did allow them to count all Election Day ballots by hand in the four races, but she said it would be illegal to do so with early voting, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the state’s vote. To ensure the accuracy of the counting machines, routine manual counting audits required by law cover only a small fraction of the votes cast.
Deputy Attorney General Brnovich’s opinion said the county may manually count all ballots in as many as five races.
Hobbs’ office said they disagreed and the law does not allow early voting.
A statement from Hobbs’ office said: “With early voting underway and Election Day less than two weeks away, these antics are nothing more than creating chaos and confusion in the election and ballot tabulation process. Very irresponsible.”
Pinar County, a larger and growing suburb just south of Phoenix’s Maricopa County, has also been considering lot counting by its supervisor. Both boards plan to meet next week to discuss the issue.
Elected Republican county attorneys in both jurisdictions have warned their respective boards that they have no legal authority to expand manual vote counting.
Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkermer told his board Wednesday: “It is illegal to do a full hand count at this time.”
Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre told the committee he also believes the full count is illegal and said the committee and county recorder David Stevens will need to find outside counsel if they go ahead. He repeated it that Friday after supervisor Judd said Brnovich had approved it.
He also noted that the effort violated a legal principle established by the U.S. Supreme Court that election rules and procedures cannot be changed in the run-up to an election.
Efforts to manually count ballots in rural Nevada Nye County have been plagued by problems, including a slow count and a legal challenge that forced the effort to halt Thursday night. Officials in the Republican-led county have pledged to restart their efforts as soon as possible.
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