February 4, 2023

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Katie Hobbs’ Office Threatened County Board With Arrest, Indictment If They Didn’t Certify Results

4 min read
  • Katie Hobbs’ office threatened Mohave County Supervisors with arrest and prosecution if they failed to certify the results of their elections before the state deadline.
  • Kori Lorick, the State Elections Director and Hobbs’ top deputy, sent multiple emails to the Board warning them of consequences, including the “disenfranchisement of voters.”
  • Mohave was one of several GOP-led counties in Arizona that asked for more time before certifying results to examine election integrity issues.

Democratic Arizona Secretary of State and Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs’ top deputy threatened the Mohave County Board of Supervisors with prosecution if it didn’t certify her election results before a Monday deadline, according to emails and documents reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Arizona State Elections Director Kori Lorick wrote several letters and emails to members of the board, warning them of criminal charges if the refused to certify the results in time. The letters included threats of lawsuits against the members for “nonfeasance,” as well, per the emails.

“The Secretary of State did contact our County and cited A.R.S. Section 16-1010 as a statute that could be used to prosecute [the board] if they did not certify the election,” said Matt Smith, the Mohave County Attorney, to the DCNF. The statute is an Arizona felony statute regarding election officials who “fail to perform their duties” under the law; as a Class 6 felony, upon conviction, it could result in up to two years’ imprisonment.

“The threat of legal action, including personally, came from the Arizona State Elections Director [Kori Lorick],” said the board’s chair-elect, Supervisor Travis Linginfelter. While previous reporting noted that the board’s members were warned of prosecution by their counsel, the board’s members have now stated that the threats came from Lorick, who reports to Hobbs, as well.

“Our office will take all legal action necessary to ensure that Arizona’s voters have their votes counted, including referring the individual supervisors who vote not to certify for criminal enforcement under A.R.S. 16-1010,” Lorick wrote in an email to the board obtained by the DCNF. Governor-elect Hobbs has neither resigned as Secretary of State nor recused herself from election oversight and certification.

Hobbs was elected governor of Arizona on Nov. 8 to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, defeating the Republican candidate Kari Lake, who has now sought to contest the election results. Republicans also lost Arizona’s U.S. Senate race, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly defeated Republican investor Blake Masters to win a full six-year term.

Lorick’s threat of prosecution was one of several efforts made by Hobbs’ team to force Mohave County to certify its election results before the Nov. 28 state deadline. Republican members of the board, like in other counties in the state, had sought to hold public hearings regarding the validity of voting machines used in their precincts, over concerns that they were not properly approved by the Secretary of State’s office.

Lorick also sent a letter to the board warning that their voters could be “disenfranchised” if they did not certify by the deadline. The letter, obtained exclusively by the DCNF from Lingenfelter, states that the board “has a non-discretionary duty to canvass the returns of the election,” and that a failure to do so “will only serve to disenfranchise that county’s voters,” mirroring her warnings to other GOP-led counties that their votes “may be excluded” from the final tallies, thereby affecting results.

Mohave County was one of several counties seeking more time to review election integrity issues, though it is the only county whose elected representatives are known to have been threatened with arrest. Cochise County, another GOP-led county in the state that has not certified its results, is currently the subject of a lawsuit by Hobbs’ office, though none of their members have reported criminal prosecution.

The Mohave County board eventually certified the results of the election on Monday, Nov. 28, before the deadline expired, though the threat of individual legal consequences for members may have altered their willingness to delay certification, like Cochise. During the video broadcast of the canvas meeting of the board, Supervisor and Chair Ron Gould mentioned that the actions were “under duress.”

The legislative certification of election results is a routine process that occurs in jurisdictions across the country, with legislators mostly having the ability to raise objections to results during the certification process. The most notable such challenge occurred in the U.S. Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, when Republican lawmakers and supporters of then-President Donald Trump raised objections to returns of Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, Luzerne County’s Board of Elections has declined to certify the returns of ballots. The county faced widespread paper shortage issues on Election Day and was the subject of a court case.

Unlike Mohave’s board, however, members of Congress are constitutionally protected from arrest for political actions made in session under the “speech and debate clause” of the Constitution, which has analogous provisions in most state constitutions for their legislators. Smith told the DCNF that no such provision exists under Arizona law for the board.

Hobbs’ office did not respond to a request for comment.