Two Republican county supervisors in Arizona were indicted Wednesday on felony charges related to their attempts to delay the certification of 2022 election results.
Kris Mayes, the state attorney general, announced in a statement that Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby, two of the three supervisors in Cochise County, face charges of interference with an election officer and conspiracy, criticizing what she described as their “repeated attempts to undermine our democracy.”
Neither Ms. Judd nor Mr. Crosby could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Last year, Ms. Judd and Mr. Crosby sought to order a hand count of the ballots that had been cast in Cochise, a heavily Republican rural county, citing conspiracy theories that had been raised by local right-wing activists. When a judge ruled against them, they voted to delay certification of the election before eventually relenting under pressure of a court order.
The episode was closely watched by democracy advocates and election law experts, who saw in the supervisors’ machinations a worrying precedent. As Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him became widely accepted in the Republican Party, local Republican officials in several closely contested states used suspicion of the election system on the right to justify delaying the certification of 2022 election results.
In an interview with The New York Times last year, Ms. Judd said she did not actually suspect there were any irregularities in the vote in Cochise County. She characterized the move as a protest against the election certification in Maricopa, the large urban county that includes Phoenix, where right-wing activists had made an array of unproven claims of malfeasance.
“Our small counties, we’re just sick and tired of getting kicked around and not being respected,” Ms. Judd said.
Katie Hobbs, then Arizona’s secretary of state, sued the supervisors last November, arguing that their protest, which threatened to delay the statewide canvass, would disenfranchise the county’s voters. (The county’s third supervisor, Ann English, a Democrat, has opposed the others’ actions.) Republican candidates lost their races for most of the top statewide races in Arizona’s election, in which Ms. Hobbs, a Democrat, was elected governor.
In October, the local Herald/Review newspaper and Votebeat reported that Ms. Judd and Mr. Crosby were subpoenaed by Ms. Mayes, a Democrat elected last year, to appear before a state grand jury in the attorney general’s investigation.
Although local Republican officials interfering with election systems in other states since 2020 have faced criminal indictments on other grounds, the Cochise indictments are the first criminal charges filed over a refusal to certify an election.
Jared Davidson, a lawyer for Protect Democracy, a watchdog group, argued that the prosecution could set an important precedent.
“Pushing for potential criminal accountability is an important message, not just to election deniers in Arizona but across the country that if they indulge conspiracy theories and ignore the law and try to disenfranchise voters, there are real consequences,” he said.