The Board of Supervisors in Cochise County, Arizona, voted on Monday to delay certifying this year’s midterm election results, a clear violation of state law. The action jeopardizes the votes of tens of thousands of Arizonans and undermines the integrity of our democratic system, according to an amicus brief filed Wednesday by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, and the law firms Latham & Watkins LLP and Spencer Fane in support of the plaintiffs in two cases, Hobbs v. Crosby et al., and Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans, Inc. et al. v. Crosby et al. The briefs were filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, ACLU of Arizona, Arizona Democracy Resource Center, and Arizona Center for Empowerment.
In their briefs, the groups emphasize that public officials’ adherence to established election laws forms the basis of our democratic system and that delaying certification is not an appropriate means to air grievances about the conduct of an election. They call on the Cochise County Superior Court to order the Cochise County Board of Supervisors to fulfill its mandated ministerial duty to canvass and certify the county’s election results. Two of the three supervisors voted to illegally delay certification past the statutory deadline of November 28, citing unsupported conspiracy theories and a desire to protest the conduct of the election in Maricopa County, Arizona.
If the two rogue supervisors are not ordered to comply with state law and certify the county’s election results, those results may not be included in the statewide vote totals, effectively disenfranchising all of the county’s voters.
“Refusing to certify the valid results of a free and fair election goes beyond politics, beyond party, and has no place in our democracy,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “What Cochise County officials are now doing is part of a troubling election subversion conspiracy movement, and cannot be separated from the violent attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results. The right to vote and to have that vote counted is fundamental to a functioning democracy and the bedrock of a free society, and must be upheld.”
The groups filed the briefs in support of the Secretary of State and private plaintiffs who petitioned the court on Monday to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the Board to certify the county’s results. The Secretary of State must certify the statewide results by December 5, with an extension to December 8 at the latest, regardless of whether the county has certified its results by then.
“Cochise County supervisors have no legal right to delay or deny certification of the 2022 midterm results. It is an inappropriate and unlawful abuse to use the certification process as a way to protest or question election results and procedures. That is nothing short of election sabotage,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president for democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. “In addition to thwarting this abuse, the court must issue a clear rebuke to signal that such misconduct will not be tolerated.”
“The Cochise County board’s only lawful role now is to uphold the will of the people and certify the election results,” said Pinny Sheoran, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona. “The people have voted, and their decision cannot be thwarted by the illegal actions of the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors’ neglect to certify the votes by the deadline is a betrayal of the voters’ trust in service of debunked conspiracy theories. It is time for the Board of Supervisors to stop playing political games with voters’ decisions and do their mandatory legal duty to certify the results.”
“Any further delay in the certification of election results will continue to erode trust in our democracy — and disrupt our fundamental right to vote,” said Jared Keenan, legal director for the ACLU of Arizona. “The people of Cochise County deserve to have their votes counted.”
“The right to vote is sacred and embedded in Arizona history. Any further delay in results and certification would usurp the voice of Arizonans and their faith in democracy and its decades-long history of free elections,” said Chris Gilfillan, political director for Arizona Center for Empowerment. “Cochise County Board of Supervisors, elected by this exact system, should uphold this very fair and accurate process that it has adhered to in the past out of respect of the law and, at the very least, because of its respect for its own Cochise voters.”
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org
About the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law – The Brennan Center for Justice is an independent, nonpartisan law and policy organization that works to reform, revitalize, and when necessary, defend our country’s systems of democracy and justice. The Brennan Center conducts rigorous research to identify problems and craft transformative solutions, fights in court and works with elected officials to advance legislation, and helps shape public opinion by taking our message directly to the press and public.