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Maricopa County certifies while Cochise County refuses certification of 2022 election

Republican officials in rural Cochise County refused on Monday to certify the 2022 election, despite no evidence of anything wrong with the count.

PHOENIX — And you thought the midterm elections were over.

Here's what's happening Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend:

  • Three counties must certify their votes by the Monday deadline. At least one of those counties is a potential wild card. 
  • Two pending lawsuits by losing statewide candidates. One of those candidates wants himself declared the winner - gets a court hearing Monday.
  • A response from the state attorney general to Maricopa County's contention that it didn't break the law on Election Day. 

Here’s what we know:

Maricopa County 

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to certify the election results after a lengthy meeting that included multiple interruptions from audience members. 

During Monday's meeting, supervisors often referenced having to combat a "thunderstorm of misinformation" over the last two years by individuals who have tried discrediting the county's management of recent elections. 

Chairman Bill Gates acknowledged the 2022 midterm was not a "perfect election" but insisted it was a safe and secure election.

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: El Condado Maricopa certifica mientras que el Condado Cochise se reúsa a la certificación de la elección 2022 al acercarse la fecha límite

Maricopa responds to AG's office

Maricopa County responded Sunday to questions from the state Attorney General’s office related to equipment problems on Election Day that Republicans allege disenfranchised some of their voters.

“The AG's Office sent their letter with urgency and we responded with urgency,” Maricopa County Board Chairman Bill Gates said in a news release.

“Maricopa County followed state and federal laws to ensure every voter was provided the opportunity to cast a ballot.”

The County Board oversees elections in Arizona’s largest county.

The head of Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Election Integrity Unit, Jennifer Wright, demanded a full report on Election Day issues before the county certifies election results on Monday.

In a Nov. 19 letter to the county, she suggested the county may have broken state law with its response to printer problems at some vote centers.

Wright had criticized the county’s Election Day performance before the polls closed.

In a five-page response to Wright on Sunday,  Liddy said no laws were broken.

Hamadeh lawsuit: In a hearing Monday, Judge Randall Warner said he will decide within a day or two whether Republican attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh's complaint should move forward and if so, whether it should happen at the same time a state-required recount takes place. 

Hamadeh last week filed a lawsuit against Democratic opponent Kris Mayes, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and Arizona’s 15 county elections directors and county boards.

Hamadeh’s lawyers contend that equipment problems on Election Day in Maricopa County should nullify Mayes’ victory and make him the winner.

Mayes’ attorneys are asking the judge to dismiss the case: “Plaintiffs improperly attempt to use this Court to engage in a fishing expedition to try to undermine Arizona’s election.”

The lawsuit, officially an election contest, was filed well before the statutory window to file contests, in the five-day window after the state certifies an election.

Mayes leads Hamadeh by 510 votes, one of the closest statewide races in Arizona history.  

Mayes’ narrow victory margin (less than one-tenth of one percent of the total vote) will trigger an automatic recount, under an Arizona election law that took effect this year. 

The recount won’t start until the state certifies the election, and will likely prolong the final election outcome until mid-to-late December.

Lake lawsuit: Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake filed a lawsuit Wednesday demanding a stack of elections-related documents and information from Maricopa County by Monday.

Lake announced the filing on the podcast hosted by her far-right champion, Steve Bannon.

The former TV news anchor claims to have a “smoking gun” that she has yet to reveal. 

Lake lost the governor’s race to Hobbs by 17,000 votes, about six-tenths of one percent of all votes cast.

The lawsuit, disclosed the day before Thanksgiving, is not scheduled yet for a hearing.

Cochise County 

Republican officials in rural Cochise County refused on Monday to certify the 2022 election, despite no evidence of anything wrong with the count, amid pressure from prominent Republicans to reject results showing Democrats winning top races.

State election officials have said they will sue Cochise County if the board of supervisors misses Monday's deadline to approve the official tally of votes, known as the canvass – and they did. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs filed a lawsuit Monday evening

The two Republican county supervisors delayed the canvass vote until hearing once more about concerns over the certification of ballot tabulators, though election officials have repeatedly said the equipment is properly approved.

Democratic election attorney Marc Elias pledged on Twitter to sue the county. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs's office has previously said it would sue if the county misses the deadline.

“The Board of Supervisors had all of the information they needed to certify this election and failed to uphold their responsibility for Cochise voters,” Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for Hobbs, said in an email.

State Elections Director Kori Lorick has said the machines are properly certified for use in elections. She wrote in a letter last week that the state would sue to force Cochise County supervisors to certify, and if they don't do so by the deadline for the statewide canvass on Dec. 5, the county's votes would be excluded. That move threatens to flip the victor in at least two close races — a U.S. House seat and state schools chief — from a Republican to a Democrat.

Mohave County

Republican supervisors in Mohave County postponed a certification vote until later Monday after hearing comments from residents angry about problems with ballot printers in Maricopa County. Officials in Maricopa County, the state's largest, containing Phoenix, said everyone had a chance to vote and all legal ballots were counted.

Republican supervisors in the county said last week that they would sign off Monday but wanted to register a protest against voting issues in Maricopa County. 

Decision 2022

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