County Boards of Supervisors in Arizona met on Nov. 28 to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election. Several members of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors struggled mightily with the question of certification because many of the county's constituents had expressed a lingering lack of trust since 2020 in the way Arizona administers its elections. Because of the uproar over problems on election day in Maricopa County, Mohave and Cochise Counties waited until Nov. 28, which is the last day to vote on certification. Mohave called a recess until 2 in the afternoon to further contemplate the matter but voted unanimously "under duress" to certify the election. The Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted to table its vote until Friday. Maricopa County certified its election after the public comment session on Monday.
Mohave County Board of Supervisors Debate Certification
Three of the five Mohave Board of Supervisors were reluctant to certify the Nov. 8, 2022, election because some of the county's constituents no longer "trust elections" in the state. Early in the meeting, Supervisor Hildy Angius broached the subject of a delay in the canvass. Angius, who attended the 59-minute meeting remotely, was ambivalent about certifying the election without more information. She stated she felt "uncomfortable voting to certify today" because she had heard from "people who really understand election law" that it may be possible to delay the canvass until Dec. 5. Angius stated:
"I know our job is to certify this election, but my job is also to be able to look at my constituents in the eye and tell them that this is and was a good election all around. This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest things that we've done because it affects everything, and I want to make sure that it is done soberly with all the information. I hate that it's last minute. And I hate the position Maricopa County has put us in. And, you know, don't fool yourself. They have done this. I don't believe the supervisors have really done their job. And I told them to their face. I'm not saying anything that I haven't told them to their face. And I'm, I'm livid—livid that our constituents feel that their vote doesn't count."
The attorney at the meeting explained the Dec. 5 date references, the statewide canvass of the results, and the day the Governor and the Secretary of State receive canvasses from all 15 counties. The attorney also advised the board that a failure to canvass the election by midnight on the 28th would mean that the votes from "all of Mohave County residents who cast votes in the election will not be counted." According to Arizona statute, 16-642 county boards of supervisors have a "non-discretionary duty to canvass the returns as provided by the County Recorder" and have "no authority to change vote totals or reject the election results."
Chairman Ron Gould and Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter both voiced feeling pressured to make a consequential decision without proper consideration of the concerns of their constituents. Gould stated, "I am being asked to rubber stamp an election, and if I don't rubber stamp the election, then they're going to haul me off in chains, and I get to see the inside of a jail. To me, that does not seem like the American way." Earlier in the meeting, Lingenfelter explained why he was one of the members who voted to delay the canvass until the last day:
"I'm just trying to wrap my head around this whole thing, as you can imagine, right? I can imagine trying to serve the people that put me in this chair. There is this percentage of the population that does not have trust in our elections, and maybe there are some people that you just will never be able to please on both sides. But I was always taught that the truth never minds being questioned, right?
And if you're trying to battle this perception, what better way than to do some sort of a test that would take 2-3 days? And then you put it out there, you know, and say, look, we're not going to try to shame you or make you feel guilty for asking these questions. And if anything, it shows at least you're a little bit interested in the process, which is what we want. We want you to be interested in our democratic process, right? And you know the truth, never minds being questioned. And you, you put it out and you're like, yeah, see?! Maybe you would gain more trust that way. That's kind of why I'm a little bit interested in this."
After a three-hour recess, the Mohave Board of Supervisors reconvened at 2 p.m. for a special meeting with Supervisor Angius reluctantly agreeing to certify the election after consulting with multiple trusted parties during the recess. Both Lingenfelter and Gould echoed her sentiments. Angius lamented the decision being one that is "purely administrative."
"It's a purely administrative function. We've talked about this many times about other issues that if I cannot vote no, why is this in front of me? And if it's purely administrative, then there should be another avenue for it; but that's what we have in front of us. Delaying this vote again will only prolong the agony without actually changing anything.
This process has been so eye-opening—and not in a good way. I suggest that in the coming months and years, we work with our state legislature to make the changes we need both for our county and for our state and to make our voices heard. Arizona, and that is Maricopa County, is the laughingstock of the country and of the world, and they don't even seem to care, which is even more frightening. I will vote to certify this canvass under duress for the chaos Maricopa County has forced into our election process. And I'll bring a resolution to our next regular meeting to address the concerns we have about Maricopa County."
The Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted 2 to 1 to delay a vote on the canvass until Friday. Supervisor and Board Chair Anne English, the only Democrat on the Board, voted against the delay during the much shorter 9-minute 40-second meeting. Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd voted to hear more on Friday, Dec. 2, from constituents and a representative from the office of the Secretary of State should s/he choose to attend.
At the beginning of the meeting, Crosby stated he felt Monday's meeting was "mis-agendized," stating the Chair "is sometimes unfair and desires to squash opposition." Crosby, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent and pilot with 26 years of U.S. border security experience, referenced the last Board of Supervisors meeting on Nov. 18, where Cochise residents stated the midterm election should not be certified on Nov. 28 because the tabulators in the county were not properly certified.
Crosby also said he "emailed and hard copied a letter" to the State Elections Director and the Secretary of State delineating concerns brought forth on Nov. 18 by a group "referred to as Paul Rice et al." who believe the "Secretary has not been responsive in providing proof of lawful accreditation of voting machine laboratories." During public comment in the Nov. 18 meeting, Rice asserted that everyone in the hearing was in office "illegally" because the county tabulators had not been "properly certified for years."
Crosby had stipulated a response from the Secretary by the canvass date, but as of Monday, it "[had] not been met." As such, Crosby motioned to schedule another meeting for the canvass on Dec. 2 between the Secretary's representative and the group to discuss the alleged unlawful accreditation of the county's tabulators.
Chairwoman English claimed there was no reason to delay the canvass based on what is happening in Maricopa County:
"There is no reason for us to delay. We have heard from every person more than once how they feel about the certification of the machines. We have heard from the Secretary of State's office [who] is in charge of elections. We have been presented materials that were asked for at the last meeting from both sides. And I feel that you both have the information necessary in order to make this decision that's non-discretionary on our part, to certify the election for Cochise County no matter how you feel about what happened in Maricopa or Pima or Mojave or Apache. We're here to talk about Cochise County and our election."
Luzerne County Also Delays Certification
Luzerne County, PA, also delayed its certification on Monday. The County experienced a paper shortage on Election Day, which meant voters could not obtain ballots on a timely basis. The Board of Supervisors was deadlocked when "two Democratic members of the Luzerne County Board of Elections and Voter Registration voted to certify, both Republicans voted "no" and the fifth member, Democrat Daniel Schramm," abstained, according to wesa.fm. According to pahomepage.com, Schramm "wanted to have more information," stating he wanted to "know how many people were turned away." Board member Alyssa Fusaro told reporters that the "Luzerne County Election Board will meet in a special meeting at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday to certify the election results." Fusaro also said, "she could not vouch that the election had been conducted freely and fairly. [She] said voters were turned away from the polls, machines jammed and ran out of paper, and normal privacy safeguards for voters were not in place." The County experienced a paper shortage on Election Day, causing delays for voters. A judge in the county extended voting until 10 p.m. because of the shortage.