Cochise County officials said Wednesday that their controversial plan to audit the November election will not include counting every ballot by hand.
The board voted 2-1 on Monday for a hand count audit of all election precincts in Cochise County.
But the Secretary of State's Office sent the board a letter on Tuesday noting the Arizona law the board cited in its vote does not allow officials to count every ballot by hand, just certain ballots under strict rules.
Though Supervisor Peggy Judd had previously called for a hand count of all ballots, she told staff during a meeting about the letter Wednesday that the county "cannot conduct a full, 100% hand count."
Discussing a response to the letter during a public meeting on Wednesday, Supervisor Peggy Judd told county staff “we cannot conduct a full, hundred percent hand count," though she had previously proposed one.
"Was your intent to proceed with a 100% hand count audit of all the races, of all the ballots on Election Day and also of the early ballots?" A county staffer asked Supervisor Tom Crosby, who joined Judd in voting for the audit on Monday.
"My intention was to hand it off to the county recorder and county elections director and that’s what we did," he said.
Election officials have raised concerns that the unusual move of hand counting every ballot could lead to inaccurate results and violate state law.
The secretary of state’s office threatened to sue the county if it proceeded.
Instead, county supervisors signaled that officials will seek an expanded version of the hand count audit routinely performed after each election, with officials reviewing a sample of ballots manually.