Mohave County supervisors to determine on hand-counting ballots in 2024

Mohave County supervisors will vote Monday on whether or not to tally by
hand all ballots solid within the county’s 2024 elections, together with the
November presidential election.

The supervisors, all Republicans, had beforehand thought-about
hand-counting ballots however voted 3-2 in opposition to the concept in August after the
county’s elections director performed a trial and located it could value
round $1.1 million. The county is dealing with an $18 million price range deficit,
and county supervisors cited that as a purpose for rejecting the
hand-count proposal.

One of many supervisors who voted no in August, Chairman Travis Lingenfelter, has now put the proposal again on the agenda for Monday’s supervisors assembly.
If he switches his vote and nobody else does, the hand depend would transfer
ahead. He declined on Friday to talk with Votebeat till after
Monday’s assembly.

The northern Arizona county expects about 100,000 voters within the 2024
common election. The elections director beforehand estimated it could
take 657 days to finish a hand depend for that election. Hand-counting
ballots is understood to be inaccurate, inefficient, and dear in comparison with utilizing machines.

State Lawyer Normal Kris Mayes issued an opinion in Could stating that counting the ballots by hand moderately than utilizing machines can be unlawful, and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes wrote Mohave supervisors a letter in June telling them the identical factor. Each are Democrats. State regulation doesn’t explicitly say all ballots have to be counted by machines, however Fontes and others say different sections of regulation indicate it.

The agenda merchandise for Monday’s board assembly reveals Mohave supervisors
acquired a letter on Thursday from a lawyer, Bryan Blehm, telling them
that it’s authorized and “properly inside Mohave County’s rights,” and promising
that if supervisors are sued for doing so, he’ll signify the county
“without charge.”

“Any litigation will probably be 100% personal pay,” Blehm wrote, although he
didn’t disclose who can be paying him. Blehm represented the Cochise
County supervisors of their tried plan to hand-count all ballots within the November midterm as a part of their audit, and he’s the previous legal professional for Cyber Ninjas throughout the hand depend of Maricopa County’s 2020 ballots.

Two of the Cochise County supervisors are actually below felony
investigation by the Lawyer Normal’s Workplace within the wake of the plan
at hand depend and a call to not certify the midterm outcomes on time.

The supervisors agenda reveals the chairwoman of the Mohave County
Republican Central Committee wrote a Nov. 15 letter to the supervisors
saying the celebration may present greater than 300 volunteers for the

Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, who voted no in August, mentioned
in an interview Friday morning that he worries not nearly the fee
and legality of the transfer, but in addition the potential inaccuracy of the
county’s outcomes. Johnson additionally mentioned volunteers gained’t be dependable for
this work.

Counties, he mentioned, began utilizing machines for a purpose.

“Are we going to return to the horse and buggy?” Johnson mentioned.

The reconsideration comes after supervisors throughout the state have for months acquired strain from Republican state Sens. Sonny Borrelli and Wendy Rogers
to get rid of voting machines. The senators toured the state this summer time
telling the supervisors they consider the transfer can be authorized.
However, no county has but dedicated to do it.

In August, Deputy County Lawyer Ryan Esplin advised supervisors that
his workplace “has considerations in regards to the legality” of counting ballots by hand
as a substitute of utilizing machines.

The Arizona Courtroom of Appeals just lately affirmed a decrease courtroom’s determination
that hand-counting all ballots as a part of the state’s prescribed
post-election audit is against the law. Fontes advised Votebeat in a latest
interview he believes that ruling applies to the preliminary depend of
ballots as properly.

Legality apart, Mohave County Elections Director Allen Tempert advised
the supervisors in August that the hand depend can be impractical. He
performed a trial hand depend of ballots and located that he would want to
rent 250 folks to depend the overall election by hand, and the counting
would nonetheless stretch far previous the deadlines for certifying the county’s
election outcomes.

This text was initially printed by Votebeat, a nonprofit information group overlaying native election administration and voting entry.