Mohave County Supervisor Ron Gould has taken legal action to prevent threats and intimidation from Attorney General Kris Mayes, who opposes a hand count of elections, as reported by the Mohave Daily News. Gould argues that state law does not explicitly prohibit counties from choosing to tally ballots by hand. He further claims that Mayes’ warning to the supervisors about potential legal consequences for conducting an illegal hand count is based on a misinterpretation of the law.
Mohave Daily News reported that according to Gould’s attorney, Dennis Wilenchik, the case referenced by Mayes only concluded that counties cannot conduct full hand-count audits. Gould seeks a ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court affirming that machine tabulation is optional and asserting the supervisors’ right to choose the primary method of vote tabulation.
Mayes’ spokesperson declined to comment on the matter to the Mohave Daily News. The outcome of this litigation will have implications for county supervisors statewide, clarifying whether they have the freedom to abandon voting machines in favor of previous tallying methods. Wilenchik believes that Arizona law supports such a change.
One section of the Election Code states that ballots or votes “may be cast, recorded, and counted by voting or marking devices and vote tabulating devices.” Wilenchik highlighted the word “may” to argue that the use of vote tabulating devices is not mandatory. He observes that while the federal Help America Vote Act prohibits certain tabulating devices for federal elections, it does not prohibit hand counting.
State Senator Sonny Borrelli has led the fight to restore the option of hand-counting ballots. The Mohave County Board of Supervisors has voted on hand counting ballots twice since the summer, voting it down both times. In the last vote, Supervisors Travis Lingenfelter, Jean Bishop, and Buster Johnson voted no.
Gould hopes that a judge’s ruling affirming the legality of hand counting will resolve these issues. As of now, no hearing date has been set for the case.