Arizona’s 2nd District is tentatively postponing election certification

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PHOENIX (TBEN) — A second Republican-controlled Arizona county on Monday delayed certification of the results of this month’s election in protest of voting issues in Maricopa County that some GOP officials have blamed for their losses in top races, including the contest for governor.

The delay came when Maricopa, the state’s most populous county, finished counting the last remaining ballots and the attorney general demanded officials there explain the Election Day problems some voters were experiencing.

Arizona voters elected a Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, and gave Democratic Senator Mark Kelly a full six-year term. But the race for attorney general was headed for a mandatory recount once the election is approved by all 15 counties and the secretary of state. Democrat Kris Mayes finished just 510 votes ahead of Republican Abraham Hamadeh on Monday after Maricopa County counted about 3,000 ballots remaining. Nearly 2.6 million Arizona residents voted.

The split vote by the Board of Supervisors in northwestern Arizona’s Mohave County came with an explicit vow to certify the election by the Nov. 28 TBEN. Members called it a political statement to show how angry they were about the problems in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and about 60% of the state’s voters.

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The all-Republican administrations of two other provinces, Pinal and La Paz, voted with little fanfare on Monday to certify their election results.

Mohave became the second state county to delay certification, after Cochise in southeastern Arizona. The board there made its decision on Friday without promising to certify the results by the TBEN, despite a meeting being called to consider it. Instead, the two Republicans, who form a majority on the board, demanded that the secretary of state prove that their vote-counting machines were legally certified.

The state election director told them they were, but the two board members instead sided with claims from a trio of men who claimed the certifications had expired.

Maricopa County had problems at about 30% of polling stations on November 8 when tabulators failed to read some ballots.

County officials have said repeatedly that all ballots have been counted and no one has lost their voting power. Those with ballots that could not be read were told to put them in a secure box to be tabulated later by more robust machines at provincial election headquarters.

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Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants an explanation of how the printer problems came about before Maricopa County passes its certification on Nov. 28. an explanation for problems faced by voters who left to go to another polling place with working tabulators.

“Arizons deserve a full report and account of the myriad issues that have arisen with regard to Maricopa County governance in the 2022 general election,” Unit Chief Jennifer Wright wrote.

The county said it involved about 17,000 ballots on Election Day and would have to be counted later instead of at the polling station. Only 16% of the 1.56 million votes cast in Maricopa County were cast in person on Election Day.

In Mohave County, the board and chairman of the county Republican Party praised their election leader. But Jeanne Kench joined GOP state chairman Kelli Ward in saying Republicans were disenfranchised due to problems in Maricopa County.

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“Voters in Mohave County, their votes are diluted,” Kentch said. “Their votes are worth less than they were prior to this vote because of the mismanagement and dysfunction of the Maricopa County Election Department.”

The vote to postpone the Mohave County voting poll was not unanimous, even though all five board members are Republicans. Member Jean Bishop called the decision “a bit ridiculous.”

“We’re not Maricopa County, we’re Mohave County,” she said. “Our vote is solid.”

The county board did the same after the 2020 election, when former President Donald Trump denounced concerns about his loss in Arizona, pointing to Maricopa County as the source of his defeat. However, the board eventually accepted the results.

“This is redux 2020,” board member Hildy Angius said. “If we don’t certify today, we’re just making a statement of solidarity.”

Ron Gould, a former state legislator, agreed that it was just a message.

“It’s purely a political statement,” Gould said. “But it’s the only way we can make that statement.”

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The Bharat Express News writer Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this report.