Election Turmoil in the Grand Canyon State: Arizona Officials Grapple with Charges

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In a recent development that has drawn significant national attention, two Arizona Republican officials are now facing criminal charges for their delay in certifying their county’s general election results by the legal deadline in 2022. This standoff with state officials has stirred controversy and has been closely monitored by political observers across the country.

Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd, aged 61, and Tom Crosby, aged 64, find themselves indicted with two felonies: interference with an election officer and conspiracy, as per the grand jury’s indictment. The charges come in response to their actions surrounding the certification of election results.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, expressed her concerns, saying, “The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable.” She further stated, “I took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and my office will continue to enforce Arizona’s election laws and support our election officials as they carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices.”

In response to the indictment, Dennis Wilenchik, an attorney representing Tom Crosby, labeled it as “the product of nothing but political partisanship” and vowed to “vigorously defend” his client. Wilenchik added, “Both charges are without any basis and should be defeated if there is any justice.”

The indictment, handed down on Monday and released on Wednesday, alleges that the two supervisors “knowingly interfered” with then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ work to certify the state’s election results. Their actions primarily revolved around delaying the canvassing of the county’s approximately 47,000 votes. (It’s worth noting that Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, now serves as Arizona’s governor.)

Judd and Crosby, representing the Republican party on the three-person board, had justified their delay in certification by raising concerns about the proper certification of vote-tallying machines. At the time, the secretary of state’s office countered their claims by asserting that the machines had undergone thorough testing and certification. They argued that the board members were promoting debunked conspiracy theories.

In early December 2022, several days after Cochise County’s legal deadline, Judd and the board’s sole Democrat cast their votes to certify the general election results, complying with a court order. However, Tom Crosby did not participate in the certification vote.

When questioned about the criminal investigation initiated by Hobbs’ office last year, Crosby responded via email, stating, “There has to be intent which is missing.” Wilenchik, Crosby’s lawyer, deemed the interference claim as “kind of nonsensical,” highlighting that state officials had received the county’s certified results before Hobbs’ own deadline to finalize statewide results.

It’s important to note that Arizona has been at the center of election conspiracy theories since Joe Biden flipped the state from reliably red to blue in 2020. This marked the first time in nearly a quarter century that a Democratic presidential nominee won the Grand Canyon State. Attorney General Kris Mayes is currently conducting a separate investigation into fake electors who signed documents falsely claiming that Donald Trump had won Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

Throughout the past year, public meetings in Cochise County, a Republican stronghold in southeastern Arizona, witnessed loud and frequent demands from locals urging officials to use their largely ministerial certification functions to challenge election results. At one point, Judd and Crosby attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to initiate a broad hand count audit of the general election results.

The indictment of Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby sheds light on the ongoing political turmoil surrounding the certification of election results in Arizona. As the legal proceedings unfold, the nation watches closely, with partisan tensions and concerns about election integrity at the forefront of the debate.

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