Elections in Cochise County have been a contentious issue for months. When Cochise Supervisors put the County Recorderwho questioned the validity of the Presidential electionin charge of all elections matters, State Attorney General Kris Mayes sued to stop that move.

But Tuesday a judge rejected the Attorney General’s effort to put an emergency stop to the arrangement.

Heres how involved the case has become. To avoid a conflict, a Santa Cruz County Judge heard the case, but heard it in Pima County because that was easier for attorneys coming in from Phoenix. Some of this has its roots in a dispute over the 2020 election.

Before last fall’s midterm elections people packed Cochise Supervisors meetings calling for an extensive hand count of ballots.

Many claimed the 2020 Presidential election was stolen in part through manipulating voting machines.

Cochise County Recorder David Stevens pushed for the hand count plan for the November midterms. Supervisors Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd agreed.

The Secretary of State sued, and a judge ordered Supervisors to scrap the hand count plan.

County Elections Director Lisa Marra opposed the hand count. She resigned in February. Supervisors Tom Crosby, and Peggy Judd appointed Recorder David Stevens as interim elections director to run elections along with the Recorders usual duty to register voters and collect early ballots.

Attorney General Kris Mayes sued saying Supervisors had no authority to put one person in charge of all election functions.

But in court the attorney for Cochise County said counties like Yuma use a similar arrangement and said Supervisors will continue to set election policy.

The judge turned down the states request to force Stevens out as elections director

Solicitor General Josh Bendor argued the case for the Attorney Generals Office. He says hes undecided on whether to appeal because Cochise Countys lawyer said the County will limit the Recorders ability to change election policy.

And I think what you heard from both the judge and from the lawyer for the defendants is that that’s the way they interpreted and intend to administer the agreement. And so that’s heartening, and I think it is a lot of what’s important in this matter, and we’ll see if an appeal is necessary or if their conduct will be adequate.

KGUN Reporter Craig Smith asked: So the point here is for the Rcorder to not be making unsupervised policy decisions on how to operate the election?

Bendor: Exactly.

Supervisor Peggy Judd affirms if Cochise County changes how it handles elections, it wont be on the word of one person.

So we still have some people with very strong voices in our county pushing for some changes. He can’t make those changes on his own. But what I can do at this point is when the elections director is ready to propose a change he’ll bring it to us, and we will either support him or not, at that point,

The issue of the Recorder as interim elections director may be moot soon. Cochise County officials say theyre close to hiring a new elections director so Stevens will step back from that job. Whatever happens theres a real time pressure because Cochise County has an election in less than a month over how to pay for a new jail.



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