Kari Lake speaks at a campaign event in Scottsdale on Oct. 19, 2022. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
Kari Lake, the failed Republican candidate for governor, has asked the Arizona Supreme Court to review the decisions in her election contest case after the case was shot down by both the Maricopa County Superior Court and Arizona Court of Appeals.
“The undisputed facts, and the violations of law, show that Maricopa’s 2022 election must be set aside,” Lake’s lawyers wrote in the petition to the Supreme Court. “Trust must be restored. This Court should grant review to correct this manifest error.”
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Lake, the Donald Trump-endorsed standard-bearer for the Arizona Republican Party last year, lost the November election for governor to Democrat Katie Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes.
But that didn’t stop Lake from continuing to claim that she would have actually won the election if not for intentional suppression of Republican voters and rampant election fraud in Maricopa County. It also didn’t stop her from continually asking for donations, which she says are to support her election challenges.
After a two-day trial in Lake’s initial election challenge, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson denied her request for a new election. She appealed that decision to both the Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court ruled that the appeals court should handle it.
The appellate court last month also denied Lake’s request to either install her as the governor or call a new election for the position, calling some of the claims in her suit “quite simply, sheer speculation” backed up by zero evidence.
In her petition to the state Supreme Court, written by Scottsdale divorce attorney Bryan Blehm and D.C. corporate employment lawyer Kurt Olsen, Lake claims that the appeals court erred in basically all of its decisions in the case. That court, she argues, “ruled that Arizona election laws don’t matter” when it denied her appeal.
In both her initial suit and the appeal, Lake claimed that Maricopa County election officials and workers intentionally gummed up the works on Election Day, causing problems with ballot-on-demand printers that resulted in long lines and frustrated voters that were designed to stymie Republican voters. She also accused them of inserting illegal ballots in with the legal ones and verifying invalid signatures from mail-in voters.
Lake claims that the appeals court erred when it ignored the 35,563 ballots that she claims were illegally added in with legal ballots at a facility run by Maricopa County’s election contractor, Runbeck.
While Lake called this injection of ballots an “undisputed fact,” the appeals court said that she provided no proof, other than the difference between an initial estimate of the number of early ballots dropped off on Election Day and the final official total.
In the petition, Lake’s lawyers also claim that the appeals court ignored the county’s violation of chain-of-custody requirements for ballots, which they said facilitated the injection of the illegal 35,000 ballots.
“Allowing Maricopa to mask Runbeck’s unaccounted-for injection of 35,563 ballots underscores how the Opinion, if not vacated, will nullify (chain of custody) requirements and ratify the insertion of illegal votes into elections,” they argue.
Both the trial and appeals courts agreed that, for Lake to win her case, she must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” — the highest legal standard — that there were enough illegal or invalid votes to change the outcome of the election. Lake’s lawyers instead say that they should only have to prove that election issues “affect[ed] the result, or at least render it uncertain.”
Lake’s lawyers also believe that the appeals court was wrong in its decision to uphold the trial court’s assertion that she should have brought up issues with Maricopa County’s signature verification process for mail-in ballots before the election, instead of after she’d lost.
In the petition, Lake argued that her issues weren’t with the signature verification process itself, but with the county’s failure to adhere to it, an issue that the court should have upheld.
She also wants the Supreme Court to rule that the trial and appeals courts were wrong to dismiss claims that Maricopa County intentionally targeted Republican voters on Election Day, when printer malfunctions caused issues at the polls. After prominent Republicans urged voters to cast their ballot in person and not by mail, a large percentage of voters who showed up to the polls on Election Day in Maricopa County were Republicans.
“Targeting voters — by race or by left-handedness — clearly is actionable,” Lake’s lawyers wrote. “Targeting Republicans is no different.”
Lake is seeking an expedited review of the case.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Lake was not seeking an expedited review of her case. Her attorneys had filed a motion seeking to fast-track the matter, but it was not made available along with her petition to the court. On March 2, the Supreme Court provided a copy of that motion, and this story was updated to reflect that filing.
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