Arizona county officials charged with 2022 election interference
An Arizona grand jury indicted two Republican county supervisors for their refusal to certify last year's election results before the state's statutory deadline, Attorney General Kris Mayes announced Wednesday.
Driving the news: Cochise County Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd are charged with interference with an election officer and conspiracy.
- Both charges are Class 5 felonies, which carry penalties of six months to two and a half years in prison.
Context: The indictments stem from Crosby and Judd's refusal last year to certify the election results for Cochise County, a staunchly Republican enclave in Arizona's southeastern corner.
- State law requires counties to certify canvasses within 20 days of an election. Statute allows for no discretion in whether they approve the results.
- But Crosby and Judd, who make up the Republican majority on the three-person board, said they needed more information about the reliability and certification of the county's ballot tabulation machines — which had been the focus on conspiracy theories and baseless allegations.
- Then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who was elected governor that year, sued the county to compel certification, which the board approved three days after the deadline in response to a judge's order.
Zoom in: The indictment states that Crosby and Judd conspired with each other to illegally interfere with an election officer when they prevented the timely transmission of Cochise County's election results to the Secretary of State's Office.
What they're saying: "The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable," Mayes, a Democrat, said in a press statement. "I took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and my office will continue to enforce Arizona's elections laws and support our election officials as they carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices."
The other side: Attorney Dennis Wilenchik, who represents Crosby, told Axios the interference charge has no basis because the board certified its results before the statutory deadline for the secretary of state to canvass the statewide results.
- He said the conspiracy charge is meritless and "nonsensical" because there was no agreement between the two supervisors to interfere with an election official.
- "The Indictment is the product of nothing but political partisanship," he said.
- Judd's attorney couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Between the lines: Unlike Maricopa County, where problems with ballot tabulation machines plagued many polling places, no issues or allegations arose from the election in Cochise County.
- The county's 47,000 votes heavily favored Republican candidates.