Arizona AG gives county OK for full ballot hand counts

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona’s Republican attorney general has ruled that county officials can manually count all ballots in at least five races from the Nov. 8 election, a move that gives GOP officials the green light in at least two counties. they clamored for a hand count.

Efforts to count ballots by hand are fueled by unfounded concerns Problems with vote counting machines or voter fraud among some Republicans led to former President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat.

The new attorney general’s opinion led two Republicans among the three members of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors to promote their plan to manually count some races both early and on Election Day. They promised to end the effort on Wednesday.

Under state law, local leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties must provide hundreds of volunteers to do the counts.

During a heated meeting Friday, Democratic Supervisor Ann English said she would do anything to prevent the county’s Democratic Party chairman from awarding those workers.

“It would be my fervent hope that if I had any authority, I could somehow convince the Cochise County Democratic Party Chairman not to provide people for this fiasco, which would be my goal,” English said. “Because I think every day that we discuss this, people think, ‘What’s wrong with our election?’ »

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The comments came after GOP Leader Peggy Judd said she wanted to move forward and Republican Comptroller Tom Crosby strongly pushed back against England’s opposition and efforts to stop the entire count.

“I’m fine talking about how it’s going to be done, but all you want to do is not do it,” Crosby said. “So I’m not interested in that discussion, I’m interested in the discussion of how it’s going to be done.”

The Cochin County Democratic Party sent out inquiries on whether they would send volunteers for an extended hand count on Saturday. Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman Morgan Dick said party officials are consulting with their attorneys about the matter.

The county party took to its Facebook page on Saturday to say they were “disappointed at yesterday’s circus meeting”.

“Judd, Crosby and (County Recorder David) Stevens seek to appease the MAGA election naysayers and instead do what’s right for our county,” the post continued.

Hand counting will occur alongside machine counting and machine counting will be used for legal results.

The informal opinion released Friday by Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office came as the board battled with Democratic Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs. He warned officials there not to expand the required number of small hands to all tribes because that would be illegal. Hobbs is the state’s top election official and is running for governor.

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Hobbs allowed them to hand-count all voting day ballots in the four races, but he said that would be illegal for early voting, which makes up more than 80% of the state’s ballots. The routine manual count checks required by law to ensure the accuracy of ballot counting machines cover only a small percentage of ballots.

Brnovich’s deputy attorney general’s opinion said the county can manually count all ballots in up to five races.

Hobbs’ office said they disagreed and that the law does not allow for early voting.

“During early voting and less than two weeks from Election Day, these shenanigans do nothing but create chaos and confusion around the election and ballot tabulation, which is extremely irresponsible,” Hobbs’ office said in a statement.

Supervisors in Pinal County, a much larger and growing suburb south of metro Phoenix’s Maricopa area, are also considering a hand count. Both councils are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue.

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Attorneys for Republican-elected districts in both jurisdictions have warned their respective boards that there is no legal authority to expand manual ballot counting.

“It would be illegal to do a full hand count at this point,” Pinal County District Attorney Kent Volkmer said Wednesday.

Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre told council members that he, too, believes the full hand count is illegal and said the council and County Recorder David Stevens should seek outside counsel if they proceed. He repeated that Friday, after Supervisor Judd said Brnovich had given the go-ahead.

He also noted that the effort runs afoul of legal doctrine established by the US Supreme Court that says election rules and procedures cannot be changed before an election.

Attempts to count ballots in rural Nye County, Nevada, have been plagued by problems, including slow calculations and a legal challenge that forced the effort to halt Thursday night. GOP-led county officials vowed to resume their efforts as soon as possible.

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Follow AP’s election coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections Learn more about the issues and factors in the 2022 midterm elections.

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