Cochise County holds emergency meeting after lawsuit filed for refusal to certify election results

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors is meeting Tuesday to discuss legal options after being...
The Cochise County Board of Supervisors is meeting Tuesday to discuss legal options after being sued by the Secretary of State for refusing to certify election results by Monday's deadline.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 7:17 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 2:28 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Cochise County Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon, after Democratic governor-elect and current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs filed a lawsuit when Republican election officials refused to certify their election results by Monday’s deadline.

“Cochise County had a statutory duty to certify the results of the 2022 General Election by today,” Hobbs tweeted Monday, along with photos of the lawsuit.

By unanimous decision, the board of supervisors voted to obtain a Phoenix-based law firm to represent them. When asked how they planned to pay for the legal representation to go up against the governor-elect, the answer was murky at best. The board of supervisors cannot legally accept any outside donations to pay for the lawsuit or for any other purpose. Deputy County Administrator Sharon Gilman said that Bryan Blehm with Valley Law Group was chosen to represent the board during the meeting and did not have any confirmation regarding payment by private sources for the case.

The Secretary of State’s lawsuit said the Cochise County Board of Supervisors was required to canvass the election by Monday but “failed to take this required action.” The lawsuit added the Secretary of State’s office won’t have a choice but to complete the canvass by Dec. 5 without the rural county’s votes. That would threaten 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. “The Board’s inaction not only violates the plain language of the statute, but also undermines a basic tenet of free and fair elections in this state: ensuring that every Arizonan’s voice is heard,” a portion of the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit asks the Cochise County Superior Court to order officials to certify by Thursday. Failing to certify would undermine the will of the county’s voters “and sow further confusion and doubt about the integrity of Arizona’s election system,” lawyers for Hobbs wrote. “The Board of Supervisors had all of the information they needed to certify this election and failed to uphold their responsibility for Cochise voters,” Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for Hobbs, said in an email.

Arizona law requires county officials to approve the election canvass, and lawyers in several counties warned Republican supervisors they could face criminal charges for failing to carry out their obligations. Cochise County officials had highlighted issues with ballot printers in Maricopa County. Meanwhile, Maricopa County officials said everyone had the chance to vote, and all ballots were counted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.