By Mary Jo Pitzl | Arizona Republic
An Arizona county that drew national attention with its plans for an illegal hand count of all ballots in 2022 is now stoking voter ire as it moves to vest all election power with the county recorder who supported that hand count.
In the wake of the sudden resignation last month of Cochise County Elections Director Lisa Marra, who was sued by two county supervisors for refusing to turn over ballots from the November election for a hand count, the Board of Supervisors wants to consolidate election authority under County Recorder David Stevens.
His willingness to carry out the full hand count has fueled speculation that Stevens would tinker with the 2024 election, when the presidency is on the ballot. After last fall’s election, he was scrambling to come up with a plan to take possession of the ballots, where to store them and how to transport them when the courts intervened and stopped the process.
Steven’s critics also are suspicious of his ties to former Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, an avowed election denier. Votebeat, an online news service dedicated to election matters, reported earlier this month that Stevens is a director of the Election Fairness Institute, a nonprofit that Finchem founded in 2018.