Arizona county board votes to give recorder election duties
BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) — A rural Arizona county board that was embroiled last year in voting machine conspiracies voted Tuesday to give responsibility for elections through 2024 to the county's elected Republican recorder, a move the state attorney general's office suggested may be illegal.
The two Republicans on the three-member Cochise County Board of Supervisors backed the agreement giving administrative election duties to county Recorder David Stevens, another Republican. Democrat Ann English voted against it, saying the legality of the measure needed to be studied.
“I hope we don't regret it,” English said.
Judd said she felt comfortable moving ahead, and noted that the board could abandon the agreement if things didn't work out.
“I just don't want to put it off,” she said.
One of the two Republicans who voted in favor of the measure was Tom Crosby, who is the subject of a recall effort.
English said that in light of the caution from the attorney general's office, “I think we are acting in an inappropriate and ill-advised way.”
Stevens would replace Lisa Marra, who was the country's respected elections director before she recently resigned from the nonpartisan position after five years. Marra had objected to unsuccessful efforts by Republicans on the board to conduct a full hand count of last year's mid-term vote amid conspiracies that ballot tabulators were illegal or faulty.
Arizona's Solicitor Joshua Bendor sent a letter to Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre on Monday, warning that he had “serious questions about the legality of the Board’s intended course of action.” He noted that there was nothing in state statutes to allow a county board to give its recorder full administrative responsibility for elections.
In Arizona, elected recorders such as Stevens already play a part in elections. They register voters, distribute mail ballots and verify signatures on the ones sent back, while the nonpartisan election director handles the counting.
Stevens is friends with former GOP state Rep. Mark Finchem, who attended former President Donald Trump’s rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, that preceded the Capitol riot, and who ran unsuccessfully last year for secretary of state, Arizona’s top election post. Finchem said he would not have certified President Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Arizona.
Stevens recently joined a nonprofit founded by Finchem that he says focuses on election integrity.