Carrie Lake: Arizona judge rejects Republican election challenge and upholds Hobbs’ victory
An Arizona judge on Saturday threw out Republican gubernatorial candidate Cary Lake a lawsuit trying to overturn her defeatconcluding that there was no clear or convincing evidence of wrongdoing, and upholding the victory of Democratic governor-elect Katie Hobbs.
lake, who lost to Hobbes with about 17,000 votes in November sued in an attempt to overturn the election. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson allowed a two-day trial on some of Lake’s claims that ended late Thursday afternoon.
The judgment marks a major defeat for Lake, who built her candidacy on her support of former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She has since falsely claimed to have won the election last month.
Saturday’s decision is also the latest blow to election deniers across the country and harkens back to a long streak of legal losses Trump suffered in 2020 as he tried to challenge his election loss.
IN tweet after the decisionLake, who sat in the courtroom during the trial but did not testify, said she would appeal the decision “in the name of restoring faith and fairness in our elections.”
Thompson previously dismissed eight other charges allegations in Lake’s case before trial, ruling that they did not constitute a proper basis for an election contest under Arizona law, even if true. But he allowed Lake to try to prove the two remaining counts at trial, involving printers and the ballot chain of custody in Maricopa County.
The district, which encompasses the Phoenix area and is home to the majority of Arizona’s population, has been a hotbed of unsubstantiated claims of voter disenfranchisement during the midterm and 2020 elections.
Technical experts who testified in support of Lake provided analysis that “does not come close to the degree of precision” necessary to conclude that the election results were tainted, Thompson said in his decision.
After the election, Lake falsely claimed that the mishap with some printers in Maricopa County was part of a deliberate effort to rig the vote against her. But the judge’s decision noted that “Lake’s own witness testified before this court that … the printer damage was largely the result of an unforeseen mechanical failure.”
Under Thompson’s ruling, Lake’s team had to prove that someone intentionally caused the county’s on-demand voting printers to malfunction — and that enough “recognizable” votes were lost as a result to change the outcome of the election.
“Every single witness before the court denied any personal knowledge of such misconduct. A 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 election management and argued that long lines caused Republican candidates to turn away on Election Day.
Tom Liddy, a Maricopa County attorney, accused Lake’s campaign and the Arizona GOP of casting doubt on the validity of early and mail-in ballots, leaving GOP voters to bear the brunt of petty issues on Election Day.
“This is political abuse,” said Liddy, a Republican. “You reap what you sow.”
Maricopa County Co-Director of Elections Scott Jarrett detailed the causes of printing problems at some polling places on Election Day that resulted in field tabulators failing to read some ballots.
Jarrett said the toner was not dark enough in some printers, a problem that resulted in voters whose ballots could not be read having to place their ballots in “door 3,” a secure box used for ballots , to be counted later in a central location. Jarrett said about 17,000 ballots ended up in door 3 boxes across the county.
He also said that at three of the county’s 223 sites, the “shrink to fit” settings were incorrectly selected on the bulletin printers by technicians trying to resolve these toner issues. This resulted in about 1,300 ballots being printed, too small to be processed by the on-site tabulators.
Those ballots were later duplicated by hand and then counted, he said.
He said he had “no reason to believe” any of the problems were the result of intentional misconduct. All those votes, he said, were eventually counted after being transferred to a bipartisan board for duplication.
Lake’s team also alleged during the trial that employees of Runbeck, a ballot processing contractor in Maricopa County, improperly placed their own ballots and those of family members in batches to be counted on site instead of returning those newsletters through the right channels.
In response, Ray Valenzuela, Maricopa County’s co-director of elections in charge of early voting, said the county never authorized Runbeck employees to deliver ballots directly to the Runbeck site and that he was not aware of contractor employees ever doing so.
Lake’s legal team has until Monday to respond. Hobbs is scheduled to be inaugurated as governor on January 2.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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