Two officials in Arizona charged for 2022 election interference

(Reuters) -An Arizona grand jury on Wednesday indicted two Republican county commissioners, accusing them of felony interference and conspiracy for attempting to delay certification of the 2022 election, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced.

Cochise County supervisors Peggy Judd, 61, and Tom Crosby, 64, conspired to delay the certification of votes cast in Cochise County in the November 2022 general election, according to the state indictment.

The two supervisors sought delays including by requesting hand counts of ballots as they raised questions about whether county voting machines were properly certified, even though they had received legal advice that such delays would be illegal, the Arizona Republic reported.

“The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable,” Mayes said in a statement. “I took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and my office will continue to enforce Arizona’s elections laws and support our election officials as they carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices.”

An attorney for Crosby said his client was asking legitimate questions about the canvass and never intended to delay it.

“We are confident that when the facts are reviewed impartially rather than by a partisan effort under the guise of law enforcement, Mr. Crosby will be fully vindicated of any charges. There was no crime here of interference or any conspiracy either,” attorney Dennis Wilenchik said in an email.

Judd did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

If convicted, they face a penalty of up to 2 1/2 years in prison and a $150,000 fine, the Arizona Republic said.

The tactic of questioning voting machines was also used by supporters of former President Donald Trump following the 2020 presidential election as part of his false claims that election fraud put Joe Biden in the White House. Trump now faces federal and Georgia state charges over his efforts to undo his election defeat.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Donna Bryson, Stephen Coates and Daniel Wallis)