Carrilake: Arizona judge rejects GOP election challenge and confirms Hobbs win


An Arizona judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit by Republican gubernatorial nominee Carrie Lake seeking to overturn a losing election, finding there was no clear or convincing evidence of wrongdoing and affirming Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs. victory.

Lake, who lost to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes in November, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson allowed a two-day trial on some of Lake’s claims, which concluded late Thursday afternoon.

The court ruling marks a major defeat for Lake, whose candidacy was based on her support of former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Since then, she has falsely claimed to have won last month’s election.

Saturday’s ruling is also the latest blow to election deniers across the country and recalls the long-running legal damage Trump suffered in 2020 trying to challenge his electoral defeat.

in seconds tweet after rulingLake, who sat in court during the trial but did not testify, said she would appeal the decision “in order to restore our confidence and honesty in the election.”

Thompson had previously dismissed eight other counts charged in Lake’s lawsuit before trial, ruling that those counts, even if true, did not constitute a valid reason to vote under Arizona law. But he allowed Lake to try to prove at trial the remaining two counts involving printers and voting chain of custody in Maricopa County.

The county, which straddles the Phoenix area and is home to most of Arizona’s population, is a breeding ground for baseless allegations of voter disenfranchisement during the midterms and 2020 elections.

The analysis provided by the technical experts who testified in support of Lake “was barely at the level of precision needed to conclude that the election results were tainted,” Thompson said in his ruling.

After the election, Lake falsely claimed that an accident at some printers in Maricopa County was part of a deliberate effort to rig the vote against her. But the judge’s ruling noted that Lake’s “own witnesses testified in court that … the printer failure was primarily the result of unforeseen mechanical failure.”

Under Thompson’s ruling, Lake’s team had to prove that someone intentionally caused the county’s on-demand ballot printers to malfunction — and, as a result, lost enough “identifiable” ballots to change the outcome of the election.

“Every witness in the court denied any personal knowledge of this misconduct. The court cannot accept speculation or conjecture in lieu of clear and convincing evidence,” Thompson wrote.

During the two-day trial, Lake’s legal team widely criticized Maricopa County’s administration of the election and claimed that long lines caused potential Republican voters to turn away on Election Day.

Maricopa County attorney Tom Liddy blamed Lake’s campaign and the Arizona GOP for questioning the validity of early voting and mail-in ballots, leaving GOP voters bearing the brunt of Election Day. Tolerated some hiccups.

“This is political misconduct,” Liddy, a Republican, said. “you get what you sow.”

Maricopa County Elections Co-Director Scott Jarrett detailed printing issues at some polling places on Election Day that prevented live ballot tabulators from reading some ballots.

In some printers, Jarrett said, the toner wasn’t deep enough — an issue that caused voters who couldn’t read their ballots to have to leave them at “Gate 3,” a secure box for ballots that need to be counted later in a central location. Countywide, about 17,000 ballots were dropped at “Gate 3” ballot boxes, Jarrett said.

He also said that at three of the county’s 223 sites, technicians trying to resolve these toner issues had selected the “shrink to fit” setting on the ballot printers incorrectly. This resulted in approximately 1,300 ballots being printed too small for the on-site tabulators to handle.

Those ballots were later copied by hand and then counted, he said.

He said he had “no reason to believe” that any problems were the result of willful misconduct. All those votes were eventually counted after being transferred to the bipartisan copy committee, he said.

Lake’s team also claimed at trial that employees of Maricopa County ballot processing contractor Runbeck improperly inserted their own and family members’ ballots into batches to be counted on-site, rather than returning those ballots through the proper channels .

In response, Maricopa County Elections Co-Director for Early Voting Rey Valenzuela said the county never authorized Runbeck employees to send ballots directly to the Runbeck site, and he was not aware of the contractor Employees have done so before.

Lake’s legal team has until Monday to respond. Hobbs is scheduled to take office on January 2.

This story has been updated with more details.

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