Republicans had asked for a hand count of ballots for the next election on Tuesday due to their distrust of voting machines, but a judge denied their plea on Monday.
Judge Casey F. McGinley of the Pima County Superior Court issued the decision following a hearing on Friday during which the opposition called witnesses and presented evidence. There may be an appeal.
The judge ruled that by instructing the county recorder to count every ballot cast in Tuesday’s election rather than the tiny sample allowed by state law, the Cochise County officials exceeded their authority.
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The opposition, which included a voter and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, filed a lawsuit in order to halt a complete hand count. They claimed that in order to guarantee the accuracy of the voting machines, state legislation only permits a modest hand count of early ballots.
According to AZ Central, Saundra Cole, president of the AARA chapter in Arizona, said in a statement that the decision is “a significant success for all voters in Cochise County, particularly older people who are more inclined to vote early in Arizona.”
Only the hand recount of about 30,000 early ballots was contested in the complaint. The decision appears to have prevented a complete hand recount of the votes that will also be cast on Tuesday, though.
On #ElectionHeroDay, let’s thank the hardworking election workers in Arizona and around the country who help ensure that things run smoothly while you cast your ballot. Your neighbors, friends, and coworkers serve as poll workers. #govote pic.twitter.com/ILrhFTCsu5
— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) November 7, 2022
If the court were to interpret (that clause) to choose 100% of the precinct ballots as its starting point, McGinley said, “this entire procedure would be rendered needless.”
Despite opposition from both the county’s elected Republican attorney and the election director for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the two Republicans who make up the majority on the three-member Cochise County board of supervisors voted to proceed with the full hand-count of the early ballots.
Both claimed that state election law, which only permits 1%, or 5,000 of the early ballots, to be counted in order to assure the accuracy of the machines, made a full hand-count of early ballots unconstitutional. Hobbs is a governor candidate.
They said that a last-minute alteration would cause havoc and perhaps postpone the certification of the election results. Lisa Marra, the director of elections for Cochise County, testified in court against the idea of an expanded count and discussed how it may cause delays and jeopardise ballot security.
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The decision was made at a time when Arizona is hosting three House contests and a Senate contest that could determine which political party controls Congress. Election practises and intimidation methods that could tip the results in the opposing side’s advantage have been warned against by elected leaders on both sides.
“120 cases surrounding voting had been filed as of November 3 – more than half of which have sought to restrict access to the ballot– according to @DemocracyDocket, a liberal-leaning voting rights and media platform that tracks election litigation.”https://t.co/5R9ko8TawT
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) November 7, 2022
Following reports that persons with firearms and masks were frightening voters, a federal judge in Arizona this week issued a temporary restraining order requiring ballot box observers to be at least 250 feet away from some polling places.
After Clean Elections USA called for 24-hour ballot box surveillance in Maricopa County, where election controversies are still rampant two years after the 2020 general election, the League of Women Voters of Arizona requested the order.