Kari Lake will get to make case for election misconduct
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge on Monday dismissed part of a lawsuit filed by Kari Lake, the defeated Republican candidate for Arizona governor, but will allow her to call witnesses in an attempt to prove that she lost because of misconduct by election officials.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson dismissed eight of the 10 claims Lake raised in her lawsuit, which asks the judge to either declare her the winner or hold a revote in the county. Thompson took no position on the merits of Lake’s two surviving claims, but he wrote that the law allows her to make her case.
Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs by just over 17,000 votes out of 2.6 million cast. She will attempt to prove in a two-day hearing scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday that ballot printers malfunctioned in Maricopa County because of intentional interference by election officials and that ballots were improperly added at a county contractor that handles returned mail ballots.
A representative for Lake will be allowed to examine 150 ballots on Tuesday.
“Buckle up, America. This is far from over,” Lake wrote on Twitter after the ruling.
She faces the extremely high bar of proving not only that misconduct occurred but that it affected the outcome of her race. Thompson will make a final decision, which will likely be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.
The judge dismissed a variety of constitutional claims, including Lake’s allegation that Hobbs, in her capacity as secretary of state, and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer engaged in censorship by flagging social media posts with election misinformation for possible removal by Twitter.
Lake was among the most vocal 2022 Republicans promoting former President Donald Trump’s election lies, which she made the centerpiece of her campaign. While most of the other election deniers around the country conceded after losing their races, Lake has not.
She has zeroed in on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of voters. The defective printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by the on-site tabulators at polling places. Lines backed up in some areas amid the confusion.
Affected ballots were taken to the more sophisticated counters at the elections department headquarters in downtown Phoenix. County officials say everyone had a chance to vote and all ballots were counted.
“The judiciary has served as a bulwark against these efforts to undo our democratic system from within, and we ask this court to assume that role again,” Abha Khanna, a lawyer representing Hobbs in her capacity as the governor-elect, said in court Monday, urging the judge to dismiss Lake’s lawsuit in its entirety.
Meanwhile, a judge in conservative Mohave County said he would rule Tuesday on a separate election challenge filed by Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for attorney general who lost by 511 votes to Democrat Kris Mayes. Hamadeh’s case raises many of the same claims as Lake’s. Mayes and Hobbs in her official capacity as secretary of state have asked Judge Lee Jantzen to dismiss the challenge.