Arizona counties face deadline to certify 2022 election

PHOENIX – Six Arizona counties must decide Monday whether to certify 2022 election results amid pressure from some Republicans not to officially approve a vote count that had Democrats winning for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide races.

Election results have largely been certified without issue in jurisdictions across the country. That’s not been the case in Arizona, which was a focal point for efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the the 2020 election and push false narratives of fraud.

Arizona was long a GOP stronghold, but Democrats won most of the highest profile races over Republicans who aggressively promoted Trump’s 2020 election lies. Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for governor, and Mark Finchem, the candidate for secretary of state, have refused to acknowledge their losses. They blame Republican election officials in Maricopa County for a problem with some ballot printers.

Two Republican-controlled Arizona counties have voted not to certify, deferring a final decision until Monday, the last day it’s allowed under state law.

Republican supervisors in Mohave County said last week that they will sign off Monday but wanted to register a protest against against voting issues in Maricopa County. In Cochise County, GOP supervisors demanded that the secretary of state prove vote-counting machines were legally certified before they will approve the election results.

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 continue to balk, would exclude the county’s numbers from the statewide canvass scheduled for Dec. 5. 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.

Lake has pointed to problems on Election Day in Maricopa County, where printers at some vote centers produced ballots with markings that were too light to be read by on-site tabulators. Lines backed up amid the confusion, and Lake says an unknown number of her supporters may have been dissuaded from voting as a result.

She filed a public records lawsuit last week, demanding the county produce documents shedding light on the issue before voting to certify the election on Monday. Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has also demanded an explanation ahead of the vote.

County officials have repeatedly said that all the ballots were counted and that no one lost their ability to vote. Those with ballots that could not be read on site were told to place them in a secure box to be tabulated later by more robust machines at county elections headquarters.

The county said that about 17,000 Election Day ballots were involved and had to be counted later instead of at the polling place. Only 16% of the 1.56 million votes cast in Maricopa County were made in-person on Election Day. Those votes went overwhelmingly for Republicans.

The Republican National Committee and the GOP candidate for Arizona attorney general, Abraham Hamadeh, filed an election challenge in his race, which is slated for an automatic recount with Hamadeh trailing by 510 votes.

Kelli Ward, the state GOP chair, has urged supporters to push their county supervisors to delay a certification vote until after a scheduling hearing in the Hamadeh case, which is slated for Monday afternoon.

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

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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