Arizona election 2022: Track the voting controversies and legal challenges

·3 min read
A group of people watch a vehicle approach a Maricopa County early ballot drop box on Oct. 24, 2022, in Mesa.
A group of people watch a vehicle approach a Maricopa County early ballot drop box on Oct. 24, 2022, in Mesa.

Challenges to election processes in Arizona are already underway in 2022, as they were in the 2020 election.

Here's a rundown of what has happened in Arizona so far in the general election cycle.

Cochise County hand count

Disputes have continued for days over counting ballots in this southeastern Arizona county, with a population of about 125,500 people.

Cochise County officials had intended to hand count all ballots cast in the Nov. 8 election, officials said Oct. 28. A Superior Court judge ruled Nov. 7 that the county can't hand count all of its ballots after the election as planned. The decision likely will face an appeal.

County officials say they want to assuage voter distrust in elections by manually counting the ballots to match against the tally done by tabulation machines. But critics say it's a ploy to create doubt about the returns, creating a cudgel for election losers to use to challenge election results.

Hand count limited: Cochise County can't hand count all ballots, judge rules, but smaller effort allowed by law

Arguments before judge: Opponents of Cochise County hand count raise legal concerns as backers seek to allay fears

Court challenge: Cochise County officials say they're prepared for hand count as lawsuit is filed to block it

Election drama: Officials say hand count of all ballots is back on

Supervisors provide details: Cochise County gives some details on hand count; Katie Hobbs appears satisfied

'It's about the people': Cochise supervisors vote for hand count of ballots

Ballot drop box controversy

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi rejected an emergency injunction in one case to stop ballot drop box monitors from gathering outside Arizona voter locations. But he imposed limits on monitors' activities when a second lawsuit asked for narrower restrictions.

The first decision, on Oct. 28, came after two voting rights groups filed a legal challenge targeting conservative group Clean Elections USA, which has organized drop box surveillance in the Phoenix area, and its founder, Melody Jennings.

Liburdi ordered the court clerk to keep the case open, and attorneys with the Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans said they would appeal.

A separate, but similar lawsuit was filed Oct. 25 by Protect Democracy on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Arizona. Liburdi's order on Nov. 1 bans monitors affiliated with Clean Elections USA from taking photos of voters while they are within 75 feet of a ballot box.

The order also prohibits observers associated with the group, which has organized at least some of the drop box surveillance in the Phoenix area, from posting identifying images or information about voters online and making false statements about election law from now to the end of the voting period.

In addition to Clean Elections USA, the lawsuit named Lions of Liberty, a right-wing group in Yavapai County. That group said on Oct. 27 that it would halt monitoring outdoor ballot drop boxes in response to the legal challenge.

Confusion over enforcement: Who will implement the new court-imposed rules on Arizona's ballot drop box watchers?

Federal judge imposes guidelines: Judge limits ballot drop box monitors' activities in Arizona

No emergency order: Federal judge rejects injunction in ballot drop box monitor lawsuit

In Yavapai County: Lions of Liberty end surveillance of ballot drop boxes 

Plea for action: Will a federal judge stop ballot drop box monitors?

Legal challenges: Ballot drop box observers face lawsuits from voting rights groups

Ballot errors flagged

Elections officials noted a handful of problems that were found early, with time to correct them before the election on Nov. 8.

The Arizona Secretary of State's Office said the registrations of about 6,000 voters were getting double-checked after a county recorder's office flagged a problem that might have identified those voters as eligible for a ballot that allows voting only in federal races.

In Cochise County, 550 early voters received the wrong ballots in the mail.

Confusion and corrections: Possible errors identified on a few thousand mailed ballots in Arizona

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona election 2022: Track voting controversies, legal challenges