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Arizona AG gives county permission for full vote count | WGN 720 Radio

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s Republican attorney general has issued an opinion that says county officials can manually count all ballots in at least five races from the Nov. 8 election, giving the green light to GOP officials in at least two counties that required manual counting.

The effort to manually count ballots is fueled by unfounded concerns among some Republicans that problems with the counting machines or voter fraud led to former President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat.

The new opinion from the attorney general has led two Republicans out of three members of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors to strengthen their plan to manually count some races in both early voting and Election Day ballots. They vowed to scale back the effort on Wednesday.

Under state law, local leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties would have to provide hundreds of volunteers to conduct the count.

At a heated meeting Friday, Democratic Party Supervisor Ann English said she would do everything she could to stop the county Democratic Party chair from providing those workers.

“I really hope that if I have the authority, I can somehow convince the Cochise County Democratic Party Chairman not to nominate people for this fiasco,” English said. “Because I think every day that we discuss this, people are wondering, ‘What’s wrong with our elections.’ »

The comments came after GOP Supervisor Peggy Judd said she wanted to move forward and Republican Supervisor Tom Crosby strongly rejected English’s opposition and efforts to stop a full count.

“I can talk about how it’s going to be done, but all you want to do is make it not happen,” Crosby said. “So I’m not interested in that discussion — I’m interested in the discussion about how it’s going to be done.”

The Cochise County Democratic Party sent out a request to see if they would be sending volunteers for Saturday’s extended hand count to the state. Arizona Democratic Party spokeswoman Morgan Dick said party officials are consulting with their attorneys about the matter.

The county party posted a message on their Facebook page on Saturday saying they were “incredibly disappointed with yesterday’s circus meeting”.

“Judd, Crosby and (County Recorder David) Stevens are hell-bent on appeasing the MAGA election naysayers instead of doing what’s right for our county,” it said.

The hand count will occur in conjunction with the machine count, and the machine count will be used for legal results.

The informal opinion, released Friday by Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, comes as the board battles Democratic Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs. She warned officials there not to extend the required small hand count to all races because it is illegal. Hobbs is the state’s top election official and is running for governor.

Hobbs did allow them to manually count all Election Day ballots in the four races, but she said it would be illegal to do so for early voting, which makes up more than 80% of ballots in the state. The routine checks of manual vote counts required by law to ensure the accuracy of ballot counting machines cover only a small percentage of ballots.

Deputy Attorney General Brnovich’s opinion says the county can manually count all ballots in the five elections.

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

“With early voting still underway and less than two weeks before Election Day, these antics only create chaos and confusion around the election and ballot tallying, which is deeply irresponsible,” Hobbs’ office said in a statement.

Supervisors in Pinal County, a much larger and growing suburban area south of Maricopa County in metro Phoenix, also considered hand counting. Both councils have scheduled meetings next week to discuss the matter.

Elected Republican district attorneys in both jurisdictions have warned their respective boards that they lack the legal authority to expand manual ballot counting.

“At this point, it would be illegal to do a full hand count,” Pinal County District Attorney Kent Folkmer told his panel Wednesday.

Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre told the board he also believes the full hand count is illegal and said the board and County Recorder David Stevens would need to find outside attorneys if they move forward. He repeated that Friday, after Chief Judd said Brnovich gave the go-ahead.

He also noted that the effort runs counter to legal doctrine established by the US Supreme Court that states that election rules and procedures cannot be changed immediately before an election.

An attempt to outsource ballot counting in rural Nye County, Nevada, faced challenges, including a slow vote count and a legal issue that forced a shutdown Thursday night. Officials in the GOP-led district have vowed to resume their efforts as soon as they can.


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

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


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