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Abe Hamadeh’s third attempt to challenge the election he lost should be thrown out of court for ignoring state law and failing — yet again — to provide any proof of his claims, attorneys for his Democratic opponent, Kris Mayes, said.
Two weeks ago, Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for attorney general, asked a judge to grant him a new trial, claiming that information from the state’s recount and a public records request proved that the midterm election was so badly mishandled that it cost him the race. That request came on the heels of a trial in December to prove the same claim, which a judge dismissed after concluding it was evidence-free.
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A previous attempt in November to challenge the results of the Attorney General’s race was also rejected for being prematurely filed.
Hamadeh’s latest attempt is equally as invalid, attorney Alexis Danneman, who represents Mayes, wrote in the latest court filing. Election challenges are strictly governed by state law, which doesn’t allow for a new trial or lengthy deliberations because challenges must be resolved as quickly as possible, she argued. A lawsuit must be brought within five days after the statewide canvass has been completed, the trial must begin no later than 15 days after that and the presiding judge must, as directed by state law, register a judgment “immediately”.
The remedy that Hamadeh is requesting is also not an option, Danneman wrote. In his brief, Hamadeh’s attorney, Timothy La Sota, asked the judge to order a statewide recount of all ballots. Danneman slammed this request as outrageous and out of touch with what the law allows, adding that Hamadeh’s campaign had already been given permission to inspect plenty of ballots to make their case. In the December trial, Mohave County Superior Court Judge F. Lee Jantzen allowed more than 2,000 ballots to be examined in Maricopa County alone, along with additional inspections in Pima and Navajo counties.
“Though Plaintiffs might not have liked the outcome of their ballot inspection, they have already received everything the statutes permitted,” Danneman wrote. “What they are requesting now — that the court order (post-trial) a ‘meticulous review of all votes and a full inspection of every single ballot without the rush conditions’ is not authorized anywhere…and conflicts with Arizona election law.”
Even if a new trial is warranted, Danneman argued that Hamadeh must prove there is a basis for it, either by proving that he has new information that existed at the time of the trial but wasn’t available to him or by showing errors during the trial that affected the final ruling. He has done neither, Danneman wrote.
Hamadeh claimed in his motion for a new trial that information from the recount, during which Pinal County identified a vote discrepancy that narrowed the margin between him and Mayes from 511 to 280, showed that issues likely occurred elsewhere. Additionally, a public records request for a list of provisional ballot recipients in Maricopa County was fulfilled after the trial, which could potentially identify voters who were disenfranchised. La Sota also included witness testimony from failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s trial, in which the claim was made that thousands of ballots were rejected by tabulators due to improperly printed timing marks on ballots.
But Danneman said none of that is actual evidence that would change the outcome of the race, and Hamedeh is improperly asking the judge to extrapolate a conclusion from various speculations.
In fact, what Hamadeh did cite confirms Mayes’ win, Danneman said: The recount did not find discrepancies in any other county and, while Pinal County’s issues narrowed the margin, it still ultimately reaffirmed Mayes’ victory. She added that the information provided by Lake’s trial was available and highly publicized at least two full days before Hamadeh’s own trial, and the public record request was fulfilled by Maricopa County after his trial because it was filed late — despite Hamadeh knowing he would need the record as early as November.
“Most of Plaintiff’s ‘newly discovered evidence’ is not new, and none of it…would change the result at a new trial,” Danneman said.
Danneman concluded by asking the judge to dismiss Hamadeh’s request for a new trial, saying that allowing it to move forward would be harmful for Mayes as she tries to carry out the duties of her new role, as well as for the election officials who would be dragged back to court and, most importantly, for the voters who put Mayes in office. Instead, she wrote that the court should penalize Hamadeh by granting Mayes’ request to sanction him and require him to pay her legal fees — including the costs of responding to his motion for a new trial.
“In the end (and, we hope, it is the end), Plaintiffs never should have filed this motion,” Danneman wrote. “This court should therefore deny it (and) grant…attorney’s fees.”
Hamadeh’s challenge to the outcome of the midterm elections is not the only one courts are still hearing from nearly two months after the election ended. Lake continues to seek an appeal for her own failed bid for the governor’s office, filing with both the state Supreme Court and the Appeals Court, asking the latter to move her suit upwards. The state Supreme Court pushed back, directing the lower court to take it on and appellate judges are set to hear arguments for the case on Feb. 1.
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