Election lawsuits pile up in Arizona, as counties, candidates challenge 2022 midterms

One lawsuit seeks to prevent the certification of the 2022 election in Arizona.

Published: December 1, 2022 8:44pm

Updated: December 2, 2022 1:33pm

As the 2022 midterm election is nearing certification in Arizona, lawsuits and court rulings are piling up amid continuing revelations of myriad failures in the administration of the election in Maricopa County.

After Maricopa experienced a host of problems on Election Day at many of its vote centers, one county subsequently chose not to certify its election by the Monday deadline, while another county certified "under duress," according to two supervisors on the county board.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors received an email from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs' office on Monday saying that they could face felony charges if they didn't certify the election that day.

"[W]e were instructed by our attorney that if we did not canvass the election that we would be facing a possible class 6 felony, which is four months or up to five-and-three-quarters years in prison," one of the supervisors on the Mohave County board, Chairman Ron Gould, told the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show on Thursday. "So if you have a choice of vote yes to canvass or vote no and go to jail, do you really have a choice?"

Gould revealed that he's seeking the Arizona attorney general's opinion regarding Hobbs' claim that supervisors who decline to certify face criminal liability.

"[W]e're going to try to get an attorney general's opinion of, 'Is this the proper interpretation of the law?'" he said. "We might find that out just from the way the judge behaves towards Cochise County, because they're going through essentially what we thought might happen in Mohave."

Meanwhile, a lawsuit against Hobbs and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to prevent state certification of the elections for statewide office in Arizona is set to have its first hearing on Friday. The date for state certification is Dec. 5.

The lawsuit, which seeks to block certification of the state's elections for governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general and secretary of state, was filed on Tuesday by Josh Barnett, who lost in the GOP primary in August for a House seat from Arizona's First Congressional District. The hearing begins at 11:30 a.m. MT on Friday at the Maricopa County Superior Court.

The case challenges the Nov. 8 election in Maricopa County, citing "a systemic county-wide obstacle of malfunctioning electronic voting equipment exacerbated by systemic maladministration of the emergency by officials of the Board of Supervisors, the Recorder's Office, and Election Board members on the ground at 223 Voter Centers throughout Maricopa County."

The filing notes that the Arizona attorney general's office inquired about Maricopa County's Election Day issues, while also alleging that procedures employed for checking out voters at vote centers weren't legal and that the county poll training manual had instructions about spoiling ballots that were also contrary to the law. As a result, "the election results are incurably uncertain," the lawsuit alleges.

While this lawsuit seeks to prevent certification of the election, lawsuits by the GOP nominees for governor and attorney general cannot move forward until after the state certifies the election.

Another election lawsuit concluded Thursday, after Cochise County initially chose not to certify its election on Monday.

The secretary of state's office sued Cochise for not certifying the election, arguing that the county Board of Supervisors' "duty is not discretionary."

On Thursday, a Pima County Superior Court judge ruled that the Cochise board must certify by 5 p.m. later that day, The Hill reported. In a 2-0 vote, with one supervisor absent from the emergency meeting, the board voted to certify the county’s election.

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