An Arizona Appeals Court ruled Wednesday that Cochise County’s Board of Supervisors acted outside state law when ordering a hand-count of all early ballots and precincts in the 2022 midterm elections.

In the decision, Appeals Court judges upheld last year’s decision by Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley, blocking the hand-count. According to the original decision, the three-person Board overstepped its legal authority with the hand-count order, acting outside the state statute detailing the process by which any hand count can take place.

A panel of three Appeals Court judges agreed:

Arizonas constitution provides our legislature with the principal obligation and responsibility to safeguard Arizonas elections by enacting laws to govern election procedures…The legislature exercised this power by devising a precise system for the hand auditing of electronic voting results in Title 16. Accordingly, the County was required to follow the procedures mandated by the plain language of 16-602, which creates a gradual, multi-step process that must be satisfied before a jurisdiction-wide hand-count audit of all precinct or early ballots may occur… Because the legislature provided for a detailed method to verify the results from electronically tabulated voting machines, counties must follow that method unless and until the legislature determines otherwise. Accordingly, the County did not have independent authority to conduct a hand-count audit of all precinct or early ballots in the first instance for the 2022 election.


According to Title 16 state statue, hand-counts of early-return ballots can only be conducted following two state audits of a random sample of ballots, in which both audits return a margin of error equal to or exceeding the margin of error compared to electronic tabulations.

The process following those audits would be an expanded audit of that single election race with the expanded margin of error, and eventually a hand-count. Cochise County Supervisors’ order of a 100% hand-count violated that state statue, according to McGinley’s original decision.

The original suit to stop the board-ordered hand count was filed by the group Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans. The original decision to hand-count the early return ballots came from a 2-1 vote by the Board, with Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd voting yes, and Supervisor Ann English voting against.

All three supervisors were named in the lawsuit.