Authored by Savannah Hulsey Pointer via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The leadership of a conservative county in northwest Arizona voted down a proposal that would have required a hand count of ballots in the 2024 election.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors rejected the proposal by a vote of 3-2 after the local elections director argued against the proposal due to its high costs and labor demand.
Ron Gould and Hildy Angius voted in favor, while the other three supervisors, including board chairman Travis Lingenfelter, voted against.
Mr. Lingenfelter defended his vote by citing the county's existing budget deficit.
“It’s a really stark situation because when you look at Mohave County’s budget, it’s a conservative budget,” Mr. Lingenfelter said.
“But the first thing that we have to do in Mohave County, in good conscience, is to balance the budget,” he continued.
“You can’t talk about spending when you have [an] $18-to-$20million deficit. I mean, that’s irresponsible.”
Before the vote, Allen Tempert, the director of elections in Mohave County, spoke on the need to keep the hand-counting process private, timely, accurate, and affordable.
According to the analysis done by Mr. Tempert, the county would have to pay more than $1.1 million to have the ballots counted and conduct recounts, plus an additional $31,360.
Mr. Tempest voiced some reservations about the secrecy of the hand-counting method. “It’s obviously impossible to get hundreds of people to do hand tallying,” he said.
“And for them not to go home and tell their husband or their wife or their best friend or something or another what they have seen, what’s been going on all day long.”
If ballots are to be counted within 14 days of the primary election and 20 days of the general election, as is required, Mr. Tempert contended, that would "really be pushing it."
Given that 105,000 ballots were cast in the 2020 general election, "it's an awful lot of work that has to be done in a short amount of time," Tempert remarked.
Reports that hand counting is more accurate than machine counting were refuted by Mr. Tempert, who asserted that idea was "not true."
According to his analysis, staff members committed 46 mistakes during the course of a three-day test hand count of 850 votes.
GOP members claimed voters were disenfranchised in the 2022 election, causing ballot certifications in Mohave and Cochise counties to be delayed.
Some elected officials, activists, and voters—who distrust U.S. elections—voiced concerns about the electronic tabulation and favored prospect of manually counting ballots.
Mohave County is among the jurisdictions in the United States that have considered tabulating ballots manually.
Prior to the general election in 2022, rural Cochise County in southeast Arizona pursued a manual count until a judge halted the process.
Last year, a similar effort in Nye County, Nevada, was also litigated.
Mr. Lingenfelter stated that Mohave County began investigating manual tabulations after receiving a letter in May from Republican Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli demanding that no electronic voting systems be used as the primary tabulators in federal elections.
Mr. Borrelli sent identical letters to the other counties in Arizona.
In June, the board instructed Mr. Tempert to develop a plan for hand-counting ballots in the 2024 election cycle, prompting Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes to state publicly that such a move would place Mohave County in "serious legal jeopardy."
During Aug. 1's meeting, Mr. Borrelli defended the proposal as a national security issue.
Former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake also questioned the accuracy of the last election in Arizona, filing an appeal to the state's Supreme Court on July 14, claiming thousands of the state's ballots weren't configured properly.
Election Official Resigns
Elsewhere in Arizona, a county elections director resigned from her position late in June, accusing other officials of politicizing the elections and creating a harmful work environment.
The government of Pinal County announced the resignation of Elections Director Geraldine Roll, who assumed the position of supervising the recount process following the midterm election of 2022.
The resignation of Ms. Roll comes amid ongoing scrutiny and partisan tension surrounding election administration in multiple Arizona counties.
In her resignation, the former official highlighted what she perceived to be problems within the agency, emphasizing her belief that the Elections Department "should not be politicized."
She also accused the county manager and the Board of Supervisors of prioritizing "irrational, extremist political party views and rhetoric" over "impartiality, common sense, and dedicated work."
"It is a far reach to see how you will deliver clean elections when you bend to a faction of the Republican party," Ms. Roll wrote in her resignation email.
"Clearly, politics are the value this administration desires in a place where politics have no place: elections administration."
Ms. Roll, who had been a member of Pinal County since 2013, previously served as a deputy county attorney and during her employment as the county attorney, provided legal counsel and guidance in a number of departments, including the Recorder's Office and Elections Department.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.