/ Modified apr 6, 2023 6:52 p.m.

AG asks for injunction in Cochise elections case

If granted it would stop the County Recorder from running elections.

cochise county seal The seal of Cochise County.

The Arizona Attorney General filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on the agreement the Cochise County Board of Supervisors approved with their County Recorder in February to make the recorder the interim elections director.

The filed motion by Arizona’s head attorney claims that the board’s agreement with its county recorder “has no statutory basis and threatens the right of Cochise County residents to have their elections conducted lawfully and transparently.”

“The State has brought this action to prevent and redress those harms,” the motion read. “But the Court cannot un-ring the bell for the County’s voters once Defendants begin implementing the Agreement and exercising (or abdicating) authority thereunder in connection with the upcoming special election … the State respectfully asks the Court to preliminarily enjoin Defendants from implementing the Agreement.”

The special election is set to occur on May 16, when Cochise County voters will decide on whether or not to create a jail district that adds a half-cent sales tax for 25 years to fund a new county jail.

If granted, the injunction would prevent the board from implementing the agreement to make the Recorder the interim elections director until a final resolution is reached in court.

As of Thursday afternoon, the court had not ruled on the injunction, a spokesperson from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said. No timeline has been set for when the ruling will come in.

Cochise County Recorder David Stevens has already exercised his authority as interim elections director. He confronted two volunteers with the Recall Tom Crosby campaign last Friday in Hereford, and said that he received a complaint about the volunteers standing on land next to the post office to gather signatures.

Stevens claimed that as interim elections director, he had a responsibility to investigate election complaints, the two volunteers were standing on federal land while gathering signatures, and thus, were in violation of federal law that prohibits political activities on federal land.

It turned out the land was not federal property, but Stevens contacted the landowner who said he was uncomfortable with the volunteers gathering signatures for the recall on his property.

The Cochise County Board of Supervisors first approved their agreement with Stevens on February 28, which moved administrative authority over the elections department away from the county administrator, a nonpartisan county official who is appointed by the board of supervisors, to the county recorder — a partisan, elected official.

Under the agreement, Stevens will manage all elections department personnel, and the budget and will receive all nomination papers and petitions for candidates for public office.

The recorder will also be in charge of distributing the official election canvass for the county and special districts and all other elections duties under Title 19, which include referendum and recall petitions.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona