Arizona officials who refused to canvass election results indicted by grand jury

PHOENIX (AP) — Officials in a rural Arizona county who delayed canvassing the 2022 general election results have been criminally charged, the state’s top prosecutor said Wednesday.

A grand jury in Maricopa County Superior Court has indicted Cochise County supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby on one count each of conspiracy and interference of an election officer.

“The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable,” Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, said in a statement. “I took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and my office will continue to enforce Arizona’s elections laws and support our election officials as they carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices.”

Dennis Wilenchik, an attorney for Crosby, called the indictment “nothing but political partisanship.” In a statement, he promised a vigorous defense for what he called baseless charges.

“The conspiracy is solely based on an alleged ‘agreement’ to interfere that is nonexistent, as there was none,” said Wilenchik, who also referred to the interference charge as “nonsensical.”

Judd did not respond to requests via text and email for comment.

Jane Montgomery, spokesperson for Cochise County, declined to comment. She confirmed both supervisors will be responsible for their own legal representation.

The indictment marks a rare instance of criminally prosecuting people connected to the vote canvassing being dragged out last year in six Arizona counties.

In December 2022, Cochise County certified election results only after a judge ruled Crosby and Judd, both Republicans, were breaking the law by refusing to sign off on the vote count by the deadline.

Crosby and Judd said they weren’t satisfied that the machines used to tabulate ballots were properly certified for use in elections. This prompted lawsuits including one from then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat.

After the judge’s order, Judd joined Ann English, the lone Democrat on the three-member board, in voting to certify the election. Crosby did not attend that meeting.

Judd and Crosby both were subpoenaed to court earlier this month. English was not subpoenaed or indicted.

At the time, Judd and Crosby told The Associated Press they had no idea why they were being subpoenaed. Crosby was shocked.

“I don’t feel like I broke a law. But, obviously the courts had different feelings,” Judd said.

Last year, election results were certified without issue throughout most of the country. But in Arizona, the six counties hesitated to meet the certification deadline amid pressure from some Republicans. Democrats ended up winning U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide races in what has now become a swing state.

Arizona has been a hotbed of election conspiracies since President Joe Biden in 2020 became only the second Democrat in seven decades to win the state. There is concern that partisan election officials could interfere with the orderly counting and certification of votes in next year’s presidential election, which is shaping up to be a rematch of the contentious 2020 contest.

__ Associated Press writer Jonathan J. Cooper contributed to this report.

Tang reports on race and ethnicity issues, including Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, for The Associated Press. She is based in Phoenix and previously covered breaking news in the Southwest.