This story has been updated as of 11:01 a.m. to include the comments from Bartelsmeyer's resignation letter.
The Cochise County Elections Director has resigned, again.
If it seems like déjà vu, and that’s because it is - the second time this year that a County Elections Director has resigned.
Cochise County Recorder David Stevens and Cochise County Supervisor Tom Crosby confirmed to AZPM Monday that Cochise County Elections Director Bob Bartelsmeyer handed in his resignation last Friday. Supervisor Ann English and Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre also confirmed.
English said in an email that Bartelsmeyer handed in his two-week notice on Friday. That puts Bartelsmeyer's last day on the job as September 29. He will be returning to his prior position as the Elections Director of La Paz County.
"It was a tough decision, but I found a welcoming home in La Paz County and I believe that I can better serve the needs of the residents there," wrote Bartelsmeyer in his resignation letter, dated September 15.
Bartelsmeyer was appointed by Stevens, who at the time, was the Interim Elections Director for the county after Lisa Marra resigned in January — calling the county’s conduct as “physically and emotionally threatening.”
The board of supervisors approved Bartelsmeyer’s appointment in April amid concern from members of the public about his qualifications and social media posts he shared about the 2020 election.
The elections department currently has an elections manager and assistant on staff, according to the county's website. It is not clear at this point who will take over in the interim ahead of November’s election.
Former Cochise County Elections Director Lisa Marra submitted her resignation on January after Crosby and board Chair Peggy Judd filed a lawsuit in an attempt to coerce her to conduct a 100% hand-count audit of the 2022 General Election. Marra later received a $130,000 settlement payout relating to her claims that the work environment was hostile.
The board delayed certifying the election past the state's deadline, which led to a lawsuit filed against the board by then Secretary of Sate Katie Hobbs. After a Pima County judge ordered the board to certify the election, the board convened in an emergency meeting to certify the results in December.
In February this year, the board voted 2-1 to approve an agreement with the Cochise County Recorder to have the County Recorder act as the Interim Elections Director. This agreement led to a lawsuit filed by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, who raised concerns that the agreement would inappropriately give nearly all elections powers and duties to the County Recorder when those duties are bestowed to the board of supervisors under Arizona law.
Ultimately, a Santa Cruz County judge ruled against the Attorney General's argument, and thus, allowed the county supervisors to keep their agreement with the County Recorder.
Stevens, while in his role as Interim Elections Director, ran the county's May 16 special election that asked voters to respond to the question of adding a temporary half-cent sales tax to fund a new county jail.
Stevens also appointed Bartelsmeyer as a replacement for the Elections Director position. Bartelsmeyer was previously the Elections Director in La Paz County.
Since then, Cochise County was sued by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which claimed that Bartelsmeyer permitted a citizen's initiative to submit petition signatures in an attempt to remove the Douglas Active Management Area (AMA) in two batches, not all at once, which is prohibited. The county later pulled the initiative from the ballot after the errors in the filing process were discovered, and EDF voluntarily withdrew their lawsuit.