Considering the ruckus elsewhere in Arizona and across the country, Thursday’s quick and comparably quiet approval of election results deserves appreciation.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously (3-0) to accept the outcomes certified by the Cochise County Elections Department as the official canvass. Director Lisa Marra and Recorder David Stevens, together with their respective staffs, accomplished much more than just an accurate tabulation of vote tallies on Nov. 3.
They overcame the pandemic, dealt with last-minute court orders, calmed political concerns and maintained the faith of electors in the integrity of our local election process.
They did all that, while handling a record voter turnout that generated the largest ballot totals in the history of the county.
Cochise County’s attention to procedural detail and state laws left no questions on the accuracy of our election results. Notably, Ms. Marra and Mr. Stevens made sure to conduct a hand-count of selected tabulations, to verify the accuracy of the automated vote-counting process. Though that step is required by state law, election officials in five other Arizona counties did not perform the hand count, leaving their election process open to legal challenges and raising doubt about the accuracy of the outcomes.
Admittedly, the fact that Republicans dominated the results for state and federal offices in a county that has a “red” reputation may have contributed to the relative calm by local GOP officials. While we have confidence in the professionalism and honesty of Marra and Stevens and their respective staff, the extent of that trust may end at the Cochise County line. Republican Party chairman Robert Montgomery, for example, joined with the 14 other county party officials in signing the letter seeking an audit of results in Maricopa County where Democrats carried the day.
Protecting and maintaining public confidence in the election process is the cornerstone of our republic. It requires continuous oversight and investment to assure its reliability. In 2015, Cochise County Supervisors understood that principle and authorized spending more than $1 million for the purchase of new voting and tabulation equipment.
Beyond that, Marra and Stevens also recognize the importance of people and transparency to our election process. All the best technology available won’t matter if the process is shrouded in secrecy and those involved in our elections have bad intentions.
The recently-fired Director of Homeland Security, Christopher Krebs, said it best during a speech in 2018.
“The overall purpose of an election is to convince the loser they lost.”
At least in Cochise County, we’re confident that the purpose stated by Krebs has been accomplished. Congratulations and the community’s sincere appreciation to the Cochise County Elections Office and Recorder’s Office, for a job well done.