/ Modified feb 23, 2023 4:21 p.m.

Cochise Supervisors continue expressing election concerns

Board members want the legal authority for 100% hand counts.

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors revisited the topic of election security in their work session Thursday. The two Republican Supervisors cited concerns surrounding the integrity of the voting machines.

It’s an ongoing push by Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd to validate allegations that the voting machines are inaccurate.

These allegations are unfounded, as the voting machines in Cochise County passed the routine Logic and Accuracy Test administered by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on October 6, 2022.

“The equipment used in Cochise County is properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements,” said Elections Director Kori Lorick in the supervisors' November 18 meeting. “The claims that the SLI testing labs were not properly accredited are false.”

“Before each election, voting equipment is tested to ensure that it is operating correctly,” according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s website. “This test is performed by the election officials conducting the election as well as by the Secretary of State’s Office if the election includes a federal, statewide, or legislative contest.”

Judd requested the work session on Thursday. The meeting agenda included presentations from “local experts on elections and using ‘machines’ in particular.” The presenters included Sierra Vista resident Daniel LaChance and Cochise County resident Hoang Quan. Neither individual has professional credentials in conducting elections.

LaChance’s presentation alleged that ARS 16-168 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

ARS 16-168 refers to the responsibility of the county recorder to prepare at least four lists of all the qualified electors in each precinct in the county. The recorder must complete this list within 10 days prior to the primary and general election, and these lists will become the official precinct registers.

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

Judd expressed a desire for the legislature to change Arizona election law to allow a 100% hand count and make the use of election tabulation machines optional. Additionally, Judd wants to allow the Board of Supervisors to view the vote cast record prior to certifying the election.

She said that the board is only presented with the results from an election and said that information alone isn’t enough.

“What if we feel like we need to have an additional audit-type activity, and we want to maybe witness some of the counting and the secured ballots and their locations, and even view them,” said Judd. “Of course, not taking them away from the election director, taking them out of chain of custody. But to have a chance to see them.”

She said that she also thinks that the Cast Vote Record or CVR should be made available to the board prior to certifying the election.

According to Law Insider, a CVR is “the aggregated ballot-level data on ballots counted, consisting of a single record for each ballot tabulated, showing the manner in which the voting system interpreted and tabulated the voter’s markings on the ballot, as adjudicated and resolved by election judges, if applicable.”

“I believe that the vote cast record must be provided, so we can verify counts,” Judd continued. “I don’t think it's right to canvas an election and ask us to canvas an election when we don’t even get to look at it.”

Fire and furry surrounding elections have been a continuing trend with the Cochise County Board of Supervisors meetings since October of last year.

During the board’s Valentine’s Day special meeting, the discussion surrounded placing the election department — including the vacant seat of election director — under the authority of the county recorder.

Currently the county administrator oversees the elections department in Cochise County. The discussion surrounded changing that.

“Currently, the structure is: the board has delegated the administrative and managerial functions of elections to the county administrator,” said Cochise County Administrator Richard Karwaczka during the February 14 special meeting.

Karwaczka said that no final decision or vote would take place during that meeting; only a vote on whether or not to move forward in drafting a future agreement — which will then go to a vote in a later meeting.

15 out of 20 members of the public who spoke during the meeting were opposed to the board’s consideration of moving the elections department under the County Recorder — an elected, partisan seat currently held by Republican David Stevens.

20 additional persons requested their names to be listed in the record as either in opposition or in favor; 19 were opposed to Stevens overseeing elections and one was in favor.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona