PHOENIX (AP) – A judge has thrown out Republican Kari Lake’s challenge to her defeat in the Arizona governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, rejecting her claim that problems with ballot printers at some polling places on Election Day were the result of intentional misconduct.
In a ruling Saturday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, who was appointed by then-Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, found the court did not find clear and convincing evidence of the widespread wrongdoing that Lake had alleged influenced the outcome of the 2022 General Election.
Lake, who lost to Hobbs by just over 17,000 votes, was among the most vocal Republicans in 2022 promoting former President Donald Trump’s election lies, which she made the centerpiece of her campaign. While most of the other suffragettes around the country conceded after losing their races in November, Lake has not. Instead, she asked the judge to either declare her the winner or order a vote in Maricopa County.
Lawyers for Lake focused on problems with ballot printers at some polling places in Maricopa County, home to more than 60% of Arizona voters. The faulty printers produced ballots that were too light to be read by the local tabulators at the polling stations. Lines backed up in some areas amid the confusion.
County officials say everyone had a chance to vote and all ballots were counted as ballots affected by the printers were taken to more sophisticated counters at Elections Department headquarters. They are investigating the cause of the printer problems.
Lake’s lawyers also argued that the chain of custody for ballots was broken at an off-site facility where a contractor scans postal ballots to prepare them for processing. They allege that workers at the facility put their own mail-in ballots in the pile instead of sending their ballots through normal channels, and also that paperwork documenting the transfer of ballots was missing. The county disputes the claim.
Lake faced extremely long odds in her challenge, having to prove not only that abuse occurred, but that it was intended to deny her the victory and actually resulted in the wrong woman being declared the winner.
Her attorneys pointed to a witness who examined ballots on behalf of her campaign and discovered 14 ballots that had 19-inch images of the ballot printed on 20-inch paper, meaning the ballots would not be read by a tabulator. The witness insisted that someone changed those printer configurations, a claim contested by election officials.
County officials say the ballot images were slightly smaller as a result of a shrink-to-fit feature being selected on a printer by a tech worker looking for solutions to Election Day issues. They say about 1,200 ballots were affected by turning on the feature, and those ballots were duplicated so they could be read by a tabulator. Ultimately, those ballots were counted, officials said.
A person who takes public opinion polls testified on Lake’s behalf, arguing that technical problems at the polls had disenfranchised enough voters that it would have changed the outcome of the race in Lake’s favor. But an expert called to testify by election officials said there was no evidence to support the pollster’s claim that 25,000 to 40,000 people who normally would have voted actually did not cast ballots as a result of the election day problems.
Thompson had previously dismissed eight of the 10 claims Lake raised in her lawsuit. Among these was Lake’s allegation that Hobbs, in his capacity as secretary of state, and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer engaged in censorship by flagging social media posts with misinformation about elections for possible Twitter removal. He also rejected her claims of discrimination against Republicans and that mail-in voting procedures are illegal.
Hobbs takes office as governor on January 2.
Earlier Friday, another judge rejected Republican Abraham Hamadeh’s challenge to the results in his race against Democrat Kris Mayes for Arizona attorney general. The court concluded that Hamadeh, who finished 511 votes behind Mayes and has not conceded the race, did not prove the vote-counting errors he had alleged.
A hearing is scheduled Thursday to present the results of recounts in the races for attorney general, state superintendent and for a state legislative seat.