The assault on American democracy has come to Cochise County.
Monday’s vote by county Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby to mandate a hand counting of all ballots cast in this year’s general election is the latest salvo in the fight to damage, undermine and ultimately discredit our electoral process.
This move is a direct attack against Cochise County voters, election workers and everyone else who believes in a fair and functional vote.
Those who support the hand-count scheme claim the only purpose for such a move is to make sure all votes are counted fairly and accurately.
That’s hogwash, plain and simple.
Numerous studies have shown that hand counting of ballots is more susceptible than machine counts to error, with human fatigue, biases and other factors all playing a role in the higher rate of mistakes that come along with a manual tally.
Election equipment in Cochise County, as well as across the state and nation, are subjected to a battery of tests to ensure the technology is ready and able to count the millions of ballots that will be cast nationwide.
Furthermore, a sampling of ballots are already counted by hand each election, per state law, as another check against the accuracy of voting machines.
A full ballot hand count opens up the potential for voters’ personal information to be mishandled or even purposefully exposed.
Unofficial ballot counts could also be leaked by unscrupulous ballot counters, a risk highlighted by County Recorder David Stevens, a Republican, during Monday’s meeting.
County Attorney Brian McIntyre, another Republican, also reiterated at the meeting that moving to a full hand counting would be “unlawful.”
The practicality of actually counting the tens of thousands of votes in a timely fashion is also brought into question, along with the cost and required manpower to do so. About 65,000 ballots were cast in the 2020 election.
Hand counting that many ballots would cause a delay in results on Election Day not only for local races, but also statewide and federal races, again casting doubt on the process.
However, it is clear that Supervisors Judd and Crosby care little for facts, the law or the integrity of our election process.
Instead, the pair have chosen to follow the playbook laid out at the national and state levels to cause confusion, distrust and chaos in our democratic processes as revenge for the 45th president’s failed re-election bid.
Since the 2020 election, we have seen more attacks on the fabric of the democratic process in America, including the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, numerous threats against election and other officials (including here in Cochise County) and so-called “drop box monitors” intimidating voters seeking to return their early ballots.
And let’s not forget Cochise County Republican Party Chairman Robert Montgomery, who attempted to subvert the 2020 election results as one of 11 fake electors who proclaimed Trump the winner of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, despite Joe Biden winning the state by more than 10,000 votes.
All of these actions add up to a bigger picture that we must view with clear eyes. There are individuals and organizations in this country that are actively seeking to dismantle the election process and strip away the voting rights of millions of Americans.
And that’s the whole point: question and criticize everything until the voters believe nothing.
Crosby and Judd have signaled their support for this movement with their recent decision. It is the latest step to cast doubt on every aspect of our voting process until all faith in the system has been annihilated.
The two supervisors know that there were no issues with ballot counting or the election process in general in Cochise County during the 2020 canvas. Their decision to move forward with an illegal hand count is driven by ideology alone, not a desire to restore election integrity.
The American democracy that was first formed nearly 250 years ago and has stood as a symbol to the world ever since is in serious jeopardy. And now there are individuals, including Judd and Crosby right here in Cochise County, who are pushing our nation to the brink.
We call upon the voters of Cochise County to see this ploy for what it really is: another attempt to disenfranchise you and devalue your vote and the entire election process. We cannot allow our democratic process to be hijacked any further.
We encourage everyone who is concerned about these attacks on democracy to attend Wednesday’s emergency meeting at 1 p.m., or contact supervisors Crosby and Judd at 520-432-9200 or by email, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell them to reconsider their illegal, dangerous plan to hand count ballots in Cochise County.
Editor's note: A previous version of this editorial misattributed County Recorder David Stevens' comments regarding leaked ballot information to County Attorney Brian McIntyre. The Herald/Review apologizes for the error.