Arizona officials certified the state’s vote canvass on Monday, officially declaring winners in the high-profile gubernatorial and Senate races, among other contests, as GOP figures vow to fight the election results in court.
The once low-profile certification process turned into a fierce battle between election officials, Republican candidates and some county boards as the GOP seized on printer malfunctions in the state’s most populous county, in part leading Arizona to become an epicenter for voter disenfranchisement allegations.
Election officials have acknowledged mishaps but insist no voter was disenfranchised. Some GOP figures and their supporters claimed officials were lying, unsuccessfully calling on county boards to not certify their canvasses in recent days before turning their ire to Monday’s state-level certification.
But Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who is now governor-elect, Gov. Doug Ducey (R), state Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) and Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel still met to canvass last month’s election on Monday, a timeline mandated by state law.
“Arizona had a successful election,” Hobbs said. “But too often throughout the process, powerful voices proliferated misinformation that threatened to disenfranchise voters. Democracy prevailed, but it’s not out of the woods. 2024 will bring a host of challenges from the election denial community that we must prepare for.”
The certification paves the way for automatic recounts to begin in three close races — attorney general, state superintendent and a state House seat near Phoenix — and officials signed certificates of election for the other contests.
Hobbs’s team will now go before a state judge, who is poised to officially order the three recounts.
But Monday’s meeting is also likely to spark multiple GOP-led lawsuits, as gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R), who lost to Hobbs, and attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh (R), who trails his Democratic rival by the slimmest of margins ahead of the automatic recount, promise to take legal action.
Under state law, they have five days to formally contest the results in court.
Lake and Hamadeh’s campaigns, as well as other Republicans, criticized Hobbs’s role in signing the certification paperwork on Monday, arguing she had a conflict of interest because she was a candidate in the gubernatorial race.
Hobbs’s office pushed back by arguing the meeting was merely a ministerial act — counties handle and tabulate ballots themselves — and noting that Ducey and Brnovich, both Republicans, attended the meeting.
Monday’s certification came after all of Arizona’s 15 counties certified their vote canvasses. Republicans took aim at Hobbs’s office for promising to prosecute county officials who did not abide by last week’s statutory deadline for counties to certify.
GOP board members in two ruby-red counties — Mohave and Cochise — sought to delay certifying their vote canvasses.
Mohave County supervisors ultimately did so hours before a statutory deadline last week, and Republicans have seized on Board Chair Ron Gould’s (R) comment that he was told he would be arrested if he did not abide by the state law, saying he was only voting to certify “under duress.”
In Cochise County, the GOP-controlled board defied the statutory deadline based on an unfounded conspiracy over vote machine certification, leading to lawsuits from Hobbs’s office and an outside group.
A state judge ruled the supervisors’ decision unlawful and ordered them to certify the results last Thursday.
The next day, Hobbs’s office asked Brnovich, Arizona’s attorney general, and Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre to “investigate and take appropriate enforcement action” against the two GOP supervisors who declined to comply with the deadline.
McIntyre had declined to represent the supervisors in court, telling them their refusal to not certify was unlawful.