Kari Lake at a campaign event in Scottsdale on Oct. 19, 2022. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
Kari Lake is demanding that the courts overturn Katie Hobbs’ victory in last month’s midterm and instead declare the former television news anchor governor-elect or, barring that, entirely throw out the 2022 election and re-do it.
In a sprawling lawsuit that claims the election in Maricopa County was irredeemably flawed by “intentional misconduct,” including the “hacking” of election equipment to disenfranchise Republican voters, and hundreds of thousands of allegedly “illegal ballots (that) infected the election,” Lake says the court must throw out her 17,000-vote loss to Hobbs and order the county to conduct a new election.
But Lake’s lawsuit contains little evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead almost entirely on statements from poll workers and observers, as well as analyses by partisan actors.
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The election challenge also cites no statutory authority by which the courts could throw out the entire election and order a re-do.
Election challenges are limited in scope by state law, and must be confined to misconduct by election boards; ineligibility of a candidate; bribery or another offense “against the election franchise”; illegal votes; or an erroneous vote count.
If a challenger can prove one of those things affected the outcome of the election, the court can overturn the official election results and declare a new winner. But nothing in state law gives a court the power to order a new election be conducted.
Lake’s 70-page lawsuit, filed late Friday by Scottsdale attorney Bryan Blehm and D.C. attorney Kurt Olsen, alleges that a litany of problems caused her to lose. Those include “chaos” at Maricopa County polling locations on Election Day, supposedly “illegal” ballots being counted, an allegedly unknown number of ballots “injected” into the system by county contractors and “hacked” election equipment.
Relying on sworn testimony from a cyber security expert, but no actual evidence, Lake argues that only “intentional misconduct” explains the problems that Maricopa County had with ballot printers at some voting sites on Election Day.
She claims that between 15,600 and 29,300 Republican voters were disenfranchised because of the “oppressively long lines” caused by those problems — an estimate reached based on extrapolating the results of a 800-person exit poll done by a Republican political blogger and pollster whose public opinion surveys are generally considered unreliable.
Several pages of Lake’s lawsuit rehash debunked claims about early ballot signature verification raised following the 2020 election, which Donald Trump lost in Maricopa County and Arizona.
Those claims about 2020 spurred the Arizona Senate to conduct a partisan review of the county’s election. The so-called “audit,” which was led by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists, costs millions of dollars and ultimately confirmed that there was no election fraud and Joe Biden won the election.
Lake’s legal team on the lawsuit is deeply tied to the 2020 election. Her lead attorney, Blehm, was an attorney for Cyber Ninjas, the now-defunct firm that led the “audit” effort. Olsen, her other attorney, represented Texas in a December 2020 lawsuit that sought to throw out the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all battleground states that Trump lost. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.
Another election suit
Mark Finchem and congressional candidate Jeff Zink also filed a lawsuit late Friday seeking to overturn their election losses. Finchem lost the secretary of state’s race by more than 120,000 votes, while Zink lost his congressional challenge to U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego by more than 76,000 votes.
The election in Maricopa County was “comical and tragic” because of Election Day polling place problems, they argue, because election equipment was not properly certified by Hobbs, which led to “widespread tabulation machine malfunctions” and caused long lines at polling places that disenfranchised voters. They allege Hobbs had a conflict of interest overseeing elections because she was running for governor.
The lawsuit includes no evidence that ballot tabulators malfunctioned anywhere in Arizona — the issues in Maricopa County were caused by malfunctioning ballot printers — or that voters were disenfranchised.
Finchem and Zink want their election losses overturned, a statewide hand-recount of all ballots and a court order that the attorney general investigate Hobbs for self-dealing and threatening public officials.
The two Republicans are represented by Daniel McCauley, a Cave Creek attorney who specializes in trusts and wills, not election law. McCauley earlier this month was hired by the Cochise County board of supervisors to defend its decision not to certify election results by the deadline in state law, but he failed to show up to a court hearing. A judge ultimately ordered the county to certify its election.
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