By Corinne Murdock |
A superior court judge rejected Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s complaint against Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ election manual last Friday because he filed it too close to ongoing elections.
Yavapai Superior Court Judge John Napper expressed concern that siding with Brnovich would disrupt this year’s elections.
Napper acknowledged that Hobbs’ 2021 Elections Manual and Procedures (EPM) required editing and revision. However, he declared that Brnovich’s refusal to work with Hobbs on the proposed EPM didn’t mean that Hobbs didn’t fulfill her lawful duties, noting that Brnovich had from October 1 to December 31 to work on the EPM with Hobbs, as prescribed by statute.
“The parties’ failure to properly work with one another to improve the Secretary’s initial draft of the EMP [sic] does not mean she failed to perform a ministerial or discretionary act requiring a mandate from the Court,” wrote Napper. “At this point in the game, there is no mechanism for the Court to assist the parties in constructing an EMP [sic] which complies with A.R.S. § 16-452 within the timeline of the statute. The Complaint was filed far too late for this to occur without disrupting elections that have already begun.”
That doesn’t mean that Hobbs’ latest EPM will be used in current elections. Napper noted that election officials are following the EPM from 2019 since it was submitted and approved properly by both the governor and attorney general.
Hobbs celebrated the ruling. She characterized Brnovich’s complaint as “an attempt to rewrite the election rules” for political gain. Brnovich didn’t issue a public statement on the ruling.
Hobbs’ criticism paralleled those of opponents to her 2021 EPM, who argued that she was incorporating certain changes — such as allowing certain votes to be cast at the wrong precinct — to benefit her gubernatorial campaign.
Brnovich filed his complaint against Hobbs for the 2021 EPM at the end of April.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.