Arizona county officials charged with conspiring to delay 2022 election results

PHOENIX — An Arizona grand jury has indicted two local Republican officials for interfering with last year’s midterm elections by attempting to delay certification of election results, the state’s top prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd, 61, and Tom Crosby, 64, are each charged with felony counts of conspiracy and interference with an election officer, according to the Maricopa County Superior Court indictment. The indictment alleges that Judd and Crosby conspired together to delay the statewide canvass of the November 2022 election.

“The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable,” Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat whose office investigated and presented the case to the grand jury, said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Dennis Wilenchik, a Phoenix lawyer who represents Crosby, said the indictment was “the product of nothing but political partisanship.” Judd and her attorney did not respond to The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network, and its request for comment.

The indictment comes after six Arizona counties delayed their certification for the 2022 election amid pressure from some Republicans, who backed former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election. Arizona has become an epicenter of election conspiracies and GOP challenges since President Joe Biden became the second Democrat in seven decades to win the state in 2020.

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County supervisors ‘knowingly interfered,’ indictment alleges

Crosby and Judd at first voted to delay the certification, which is also called a canvass. They said they wanted a meeting to hear evidence about county voting machines and whether those machines were properly certified. By that time, they had ignored repeated legal advice that their actions were illegal.

Cochise County certified election results in December 2022 after a judge ruled that Crosby and Judd were breaking the law by refusing to certify the vote by the deadline.

The supervisors were quickly sued, including by then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is a Democrat. One lawsuit yielded a court order to certify the result, which the supervisors convened to do — though Crosby didn’t show up. Ultimately, they voted 2-0 to send the results to Hobbs just four days before the statewide canvass.

The indictment alleges Crosby and Judd “knowingly interfered” with Hobbs’ ability to complete the canvass “by preventing the Cochise County Board of Supervisors from canvassing the election within the time period required by law, and preventing the timely transmission of the county’s returns to the Secretary of State’s Office for inclusion in the statewide canvass.”

“Both charges are without any basis and should be defeated if there is any justice,” Wilenchik said.

He said there was no agreement on Crosby’s part to interfere in the election, and that the alleged interference “never could actually have occurred because Hobbs still received the county canvass prior” to her deadline to sign the statewide certification.

Mayes in October sent the supervisors subpoenas to appear before the grand jury in mid-November. The grand jury indictment, filed Monday, was served on the supervisors Wednesday, according to Mayes’ spokesperson Richie Taylor. The supervisors will next appear in court for arraignment, though the date has not yet been made available.

The charges against them are class 5 felonies, the second-least severe felony under Arizona law. If convicted, the supervisors could face prison time up to 2 1/2 years and a $150,000 fine.

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Case drew national attention to Arizona

The supervisors drew national media attention to the largely rural southeast corner of Arizona with their vote to delay the certification and an attempt to hand count ballots immediately after the November election.

The hand count effort was struck down by Arizona courts, which separately upheld the board’s decision to delegate election duties to the county recorder. Mayes filed a lawsuit challenging that consolidation of duties but courts sided with the Cochise County Board of Supervisors.

Mayes has pledged to defend election workers and the integrity of election processes.

Last month, when supervisors in Mohave County held a vote to consider a hand count, Mayes fired off a warning shot that a hand count would violate state law and lead to less accurate results. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is also investigating the slate of state Republicans who claimed to be legitimate electors for Donald Trump following the 2020 election.

Mayes has routinely declined to provide updates on the investigation of the false electors, and Taylor declined to comment Wednesday.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona county supervisors charged with 2022 election interference

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