Districts in Arizona, Pennsylvania, do not confirm election results by legal deadlines

Updated November 28, 2022 at 7:11 p.m. ET

Two counties in some swing states turned a normally uneventful step in the election process into a political flashpoint on Monday.

Officials in rural, Republican-controlled Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, near Tucson, voted to delay confirming the results of this month’s midterm elections and miss the state’s legal deadline on Monday, despite not naming any legitimate problems with the found local censuses.

“There’s no reason for us to delay,” said Democratic district board of directors chairwoman Ann English, whose vote was outnumbered by the district’s two Republican overseers, Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd.

The move risks excluding more than 47,000 Arizonan voters from the state’s final, official count and has sparked court cases. The nonprofit Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and a Cochise County constituent, represented in part by the Elias Law Group, are suing county supervisors to try to force them to certify by December 1.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s office also plans to file a lawsuit Monday, spokeswoman Sophia Solis said via email.

And in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 117,000 votes could be left out of official results after the local electoral committee bogged down along party lines when its fifth member, a Democrat, abstained on whether to certify. Monday is the state’s certification deadline for counties that have not received valid recount requests.

The Pennsylvania State Department has contacted county officials “to inquire about the board’s decision and intended next steps,” spokeswoman Ellen Lyon said in an email. The Democrat board member who abstained told The Associated Press after the hearing that he intends to vote for certification at another meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

Despite these delays, voter certifications went relatively smoothly

However, local certification of the midterm election results has largely passed without much controversy in Pennsylvania, Arizona and across the country.

In the corner of Arizona across from Cochise County, another Republican-controlled community — Mohave County — signaled it was on the verge of not confirming the election results. Last week, GOP officials there said they wanted to delay a decision until Monday’s deadline to issue a policy statement. And after the adjournment of their meeting on Monday, Mohave’s board of directors finally voted to confirm the results.

Still, many poll watchers had expressed concerns that Republican officials could disrupt the process of officially announcing the election results after Cochise County GOP leaders voted Nov. 18 to move forward with the decision to confirm the results by the legal deadline on Monday waiting.

“We also knew we were coming to this election after the last cycle and what we were seeing in Otero County [in New Mexico’s primary this year]’ said Tammy Patrick, a former Arizona elections official who is now a member of the National Task Force on Election Crises, during a briefing with reporters last week, ‘this certification would be another mundane, mundane administrative process that would be used, and at least for using partisan potential gain or partisan rhetoric. And that’s what we see here.”

Republican regulators in Cochise County cited claims about the certification of voting equipment, which Arizona state election commissioner Kori Lorick confirmed had been tested and properly certified. Nonetheless, Crosby and Judd have called a meeting for Friday to discuss the allegations.

Ahead of Monday’s vote, Lorick said in a statement that the Arizona Secretary of State “will use all available legal remedies to enforce compliance with Arizona laws and protect the right of Cochise County voters to have their votes counted” if the Board does not complete its “non-counting”. discretion.”

The controversy over local voting records comes as Republicans continue to criticize the electoral administration in Arizona’s Maricopa County, the state’s largest county and home to Phoenix.

Maricopa’s Republican leadership has defended its handling of the election, saying no voters were disenfranchised due to technical problems that arose on Election Day. Still, GOP candidates for governor and attorney general, among others, have questioned the results and sought more information after electronic vote-counting tabs failed early on Nov. 8 at some county polling stations.

And Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican attorney general’s nominee, has taken steps that could make Arizona’s December 5 state permitting deadline another flash point.

Last week, Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit asking an Arizona state court to enter an injunction that would bar the Arizona Secretary of State from issuing a certificate of election to the apparent winner of the race, Democrat Kris Mayes .

The razor-thin gap between Hamadeh and Mayes means the race is poised for an automatic recount.

Ben Gilesa reporter from NPR affiliate station KJZZ in Phoenix, contributed to this report.

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