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Arizona secretary of state sues GOP-controlled county over refusal to certify election results

NBC News 11/29/2022 Vaughn Hillyard and Zoë Richards
People wait in line to vote in the early morning in front of the American Legion in Cochise County, in Tombstone, Ariz., on Nov. 3, 2020. © Provided by NBC News People wait in line to vote in the early morning in front of the American Legion in Cochise County, in Tombstone, Ariz., on Nov. 3, 2020.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sued a Republican-controlled county on Monday after it refused to certify its election results by the state's statutory deadline.

The lawsuit, filed in Arizona Superior Court, aims to compel the Cochise Board of Supervisors to certify the county's results from the Nov. 8 election. The deadline for county certification is Monday.

Officials in Cochise County, one of 15 in the state, voted earlier in the day against certifying its election results. The county previously postponed certification at a Nov. 18 meeting.

Under state law, Arizona is supposed to certify its results by Dec. 8 — with or without certification from all of the counties.

“Absent this Court’s intervention, the Secretary will have no choice but to complete the statewide canvass by December 8 without Cochise County’s votes included," the lawsuit states. "Thus, 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.”

During a meeting Monday, the board voted 2-1 to further delay its certification of the results until Friday.

The lone Democrat on the board, Ann English, urged her GOP colleagues to take action.

"There is no reason for us to delay," English told vice chair Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby.

"We have been presented materials that was 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," she added.

NBC News has reached out to Judd and Crosby for comment.

In a statement to NBC News earlier Monday, a spokesperson for Hobbs warned that the secretary of state would use "all available legal remedies" to compel counties to comply with Arizona law, which requires that county election results be certified by Nov. 28.

The spokesperson, Sophia Solis, added that if the court failed to intervene, Hobbs "will have no choice" but to complete the statewide canvass by Dec. 8 without Cochise County’s votes.

"Thus, 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,” Solis said.

Hobbs will be the state's next governor after defeating Trump-backed Kari Lake, a prominent election denier who has refused to concede the race. Voters in Cochise County largely favored Lake over Hobbs in the November election.

Cochise County is the only county in the state that refused to certify its results.

Maricopa, the state’s most populous county and the jurisdiction that was at the center of a partisan review over its 2020 election results, certified November's results amid backlash during a public meeting on Monday.

“This was not a perfect election but it was safe and secure, the votes have been counted accurately,” Bill Gates, the GOP chairman of Maricopa County's board of supervisors said ahead of its vote in favor of certifying the election.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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