The elections director of a rural Republican Arizona county where some officials tried to block certification of the state’s 2022 elections has resigned.
The Washington Post reported that Lisa Marra, the appointed elections director in Cochise county, will leave the role. The county has not yet confirmed the resignation to the Guardian. Marra could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Marra has served as the county’s elections director since 2017. She has been a vocal defender of Arizona elections, especially since 2020, which has led to backlash from Republicans.
The Post obtained a letter from Marra’s attorney detailing her resignation, which criticized a work environment that had grown “physically and emotionally threatening” with “objectively difficult and unpleasant working conditions”.
The resignation comes after two Republican members of the county’s board of supervisors, Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby, sought a full hand-count of ballots of the November election, arguing that a hand-count could double-check tabulator results and that tabulator machines were not properly certified, a claim debunked by state elections officials. Marra did not believe a hand-count was warranted or possible, while the supervisors and recorder pushed for it.
A judge ruled in early November that a broad hand-count was not allowed by state law.
The two supervisors then refused to certify the election, requiring a court intervention to force them to certify. Crosby is now the subject of a recall effort by local residents over his refusal to certify the election.
In recent weeks, Judd and Crosby delayed paying for an outside attorney that Marra required when she, the supervisors, and the elected county recorder were sued over the hand-count.
Her representation in the legal case, which was expedited over just a few days, cost more than $30,000. After delaying payment in December, the board approved the payment this week after the law firm that represented Marra sent a letter to the county notifying them that a failure to pay the bill could result in legal action.
The county’s deputy director of elections also left the department recently. Martha Rodriguez, who worked for the county for 28 years, mostly in elections, retired on 13 January, the county’s local newspaper reported.
The two departures leave Cochise county without seasoned elections officials at a time when elections workers are under increased scrutiny, often leading to threats and harassment. The field has seen high turnover nationwide and in Arizona, where several elections officials in multiple counties have quit in the past year because of the hostile environment.
The county recorder and elections director in Republican-dominated Yavapai county both quit in 2022 after facing rounds of harassment and obstacles over the 2020 election, which Trump won handily in the county. In Yuma county, the recorder, and more recently the elections director, have both left in the past year.