Calls made to prosecute Arizona officials who refused to certify election

Secretary of state’s request for investigation just the latest

Illustration by Niyazz | iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Republican Cochise County supervisors who refused to certify the election results should be investigated and criminally prosecuted, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a letter to state and county attorneys.

Without repercussions, Hobbs wrote to Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, the decision of supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd to flout Arizona election law could encourage future violations, further eroding election integrity in the state and trespassing over the will of Arizona voters.

“Supervisors Crosby and Judd’s actions not only demonstrate a complete disregard for the law but also jeopardize Arizona’s democracy,” she wrote. “Had a court not intervened, the failure of these two Supervisors to uphold their duty would have disenfranchised thousands of Cochise County voters. This blatant act of defying Arizona’s election laws risks establishing a dangerous precedent that we must discourage.”

Crosby and Judd threw the state certification process into disarray last month when they delayed their official canvassing of the midterm election results in Cochise County, citing bogus claims that electronic tabulators didn’t meet state or federal standards. It was only after a court ordered them to complete their statutorily mandated duties that they did so on Dec. 1, days after the Nov. 28 deadline.

Their actions put the official statewide canvass in jeopardy, as Hobbs must meet a Dec. 5 deadline to certify the results. She can only push that deadline as far as Dec. 8. If she decided to go ahead with the process without the results from Cochise County, a heavily Republican region, more than 47,000 voters could have seen their ballots ignored and a number of races would have flipped in favor of Democratic candidates.

The responsibilities of county supervisors are clearly laid out in state law and the state’s Election Procedures Manual, Hobbs said, and they are non-negotiable. As well, Crosby and Judd were given ample notification of the consequences, both from her office and McIntyre.

“Supervisors Crosby and Judd knew they had a statutory requirement to canvass the election by November 28, but instead chose to act in violation of the law, putting false election narratives ahead of Cochise County’s voters,” Hobbs wrote. Hobbs, who was elected governor in the election, wrote that the two Republicans violated several state laws, with penalties ranging from a class 3 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony.

If Crosby and Judd were convicted of a felony, their right to vote would be revoked. They also stand to lose their elected office: State law deems an elected office vacant if the officeholder is convicted of a felony or any “offense involving a violation of the person’s official duties”.

This is the second call for an investigation: Earlier this week, former Attorney General Terry Goddard and Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley wrote to Brnovich and McIntyre requesting they hold Crosby and Judd accountable for their actions.

In an emailed statement, Brnovich spokeswoman Katie Conner said their office had not yet received Hobbs’ letter.

It’s likely that Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes will make the final decision on whether to prosecute, as she takes office in January. In a statement, she said she agrees with the request from Hobbs’ office to begin an investigation and said that it is through that process that a decision on what response, if any, should be made.

“This investigation should determine whether any Arizona laws were violated, and if so, what appropriate enforcement actions should be taken,” Mayes said.

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Gloria Rebecca Gomez, Arizona Mirror
Gloria Rebecca Gomez, Arizona Mirror

Gloria Gomez joined the Arizona Mirror in August 2022. Prior to that, she wrote for the Mirror as the UA School of Journalism’s Don Bolles Fellow. She has written for the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Republic and worked at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She graduated in 2022 with bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science, with a Spanish minor. She’s a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.