Nov 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Arizona county officials' hand-count ballots order blocked by judge

An elections worker scans mail-in ballots in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A southeastern Arizona county's plan to fully hand-count all ballots was on Monday blocked by a judge, on the eve of Election Day.

The big picture: Republican officials, who requested the measure in the rural Cochise County after raising unfounded concerns about the trustworthiness of vote-counting machines, are likely to appeal the judge's decision, per AP.

Driving the news: Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans and a Democratic voter who sued to stop the planned hand-count said in a statement that while hand counts are "an important tool for recounts or confirming machine accuracy, using them as a primary counting method can add human error and inaccurate standards into the process."

  • Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ruled that the Cochise County board of supervisors exceeded their statutory authority — noting there's "no evidence" that electronic tabulation is inaccurate, nor that "the audit system established by law is insufficient to detect any inaccuracy it may possess."
  • McGinley noted that counties are legally required to "randomly" select ballots for recount, but this is not possible if all all ballots are selected.
  • "Because the statute does not permit elections officials to begin the precinct hand-count by counting all ballots cast, the Board's requirement that elections officials do so here is unlawful," McGinley said.

Background: McGinley oversaw the Cochise County case following a request for a judge who wasn't from that county, the Arizona Republic reports.

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