Two members of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted to go forward with a hand count in addition to tabulation in the 2022 general election last night, despite looming litigation and advice from the county attorney that the move is roundly illegal.
The Board was warned by the Secretary of State, the Cochise County Attorney’s office, the Pinal County Attorney’s office and the General Counsel for the Arizona Legislative Council that moving forward with the hand count would be unlawful and could result in the loss of state funding.
The SoS threatened legal action. And about an hour before the vote, Rep. Joel John, R-Buckeye, issued a letter threatening to file a SB1487 complaint with the Attorney General’s office.
“The board will get sued,” Bryan McIntyre, Cochise County Attorney said ahead of the final vote. “And the opposing parties will prevail,”
Supervisor Tom Crosby presented two near-mirror motions. The first ordered a hand count of all ballots cast in the general election, and the other required the county recorder to perform a hand count audit of all county precincts.
All three supervisors unanimously voted against the first measure, but Crosby and Supervisor Peggy Judd voted to move forward with the second measure, signaling their stance on the larger election fraud narrative now pervasive in the state.
“I might go to jail but oh well,” Judd said before casting her vote.
The meeting was packed both in-person and online, drawing around 60 speakers for public testimony and more than 230 virtual viewers.
At the start, Chairwoman Ann English said she thought the election system to be “secure and accurate,” acknowledged legal warnings and clarified that Crosby and Judd would bear the legal fees from any lawsuit, not the county.
She then implored her colleagues to “think about the consequences.”
The motion nearly died before it was heard because it took three attempts to hear a second from Crosby. Crosby attended virtually and could not figure out how to unmute his cell on the call. After three calls for a second, he finally found his voice and seconded the motion from a staffer’s phone.
Public testimony then commenced for nearly four hours. Outspoken proponents and opponents of the motion took the stand as viewers bickered in an open chat.
People speaking for the motion spoke of their distrust in the election system. A handful of speakers claimed to have witnessed or have evidence of fraud in the 2020 election.
One man, who said he was an IT expert, said he knew how to hack tabulation machines, calling it “child’s play” under the right conditions. Others continued to claim the tabulation machines were not accredited, thus the need for a hand count.
Speakers against the motion included county residents and representatives from LUCHA and All Voting is Local. Voters opposed to the idea expressed fears that the hand count would cause the county to miss canvas deadlines and nullify their vote.
Kori Lorick, state elections services director, reiterated the looming legal battles if the motion were to go through and that a hand count would be “impossible” to complete given election deadlines.
Before voting on the second measure, McIntyre again stressed that the motion had no legal basis, and he could not ethically defend the supervisors from any legal action.
Crosby and Judd stuck with their position, and Judd said she felt confident and that she had support from the legislature
“I could take advice all day and probably not change my mind,” Judd said.
English said her colleagues had presented “no research” on the motion before voting no.
“You give me specifics so I can make an informed decision,” English said. “This right now is an idea. This isn’t something that’s our choice to make.”