The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected six of the seven claims that failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake made in her bid to have the court overturn her election loss.
The court remanded the remaining claim, regarding signature verification in Maricopa County, back to the trial court for reconsideration.
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.
Since then, she has refused to concede to Hobbs, who took the governor’s seat in January, and turned to the courts to toss out the election results. She lost an election challenge in Maricopa County Superior Court as well as her appeal of that challenge.
That brought her to the state Supreme Court, which late Wednesday ruled on her claims.
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Lake has insisted that she would have actually won the election if not for intentional suppression of Republican voters and rampant election fraud in Maricopa County. But courts at all levels have rejected those claims and said there is no proof to support them.
While it dismissed six of Lake’s seven claims, the Supreme Court determined that both the appeals and trial courts erred in dismissing her claim regarding signature verification. Both courts had concluded that, since Lake was challenging Maricopa County’s signature verification processes that were in place prior to the November election, she should have brought the challenge before she lost the election instead of waiting until afterward.
The Supreme Court agreed with Lake that the appellate and trial courts mischaracterized her claim, and that she was not actually challenging Maricopa County’s signature verification process but its failure to adhere to its own signature verification requirements.
“Contrary to the ruling of the trial court and the Court of Appeals Opinion, this signature verification challenge is to the application of the policies, not to the policies themselves,” the Supreme Court wrote.
Lake and her lawyers have alleged that Maricopa County accepted and tabulated early voting ballots that had signatures that did not match the ones on file for the voter.
“I am thrilled that the Supreme Court has agreed to give our signature verification evidence the appropriate forum for the evaluation it deserves,” Lake said in a Wednesday night statement. “For years signatures have been a third rail for Maricopa County. The process of verifying these signatures is the only security measure on mail-in ballots. The amount of time allotted to check these signatures was only 8 seconds, which is not humanly possible. The system is completely broken. That’s why they are absolutely terrified of letting anyone take a look at their signatures.”
The Supreme Court vacated the portion of the appellate court’s ruling referring to the signature verification claims and ordered the trial court to reconsider the claim with the understanding that Lake is challenging Maricopa County’s adherence to its own signature verification processes, not the processes themselves.
The trial court will also have to determine if those ballots that Lake claimed should not have been accepted because of their signatures would substantially change the outcome of the election.
The Supreme Court will also give the defendants in the case, which include Maricopa County, Hobbs and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a chance to ask for sanctions against Lake and her lawyers for bringing frivolous claims.
The high court ruled that the defendants could only ask for sanctions based on factual claims made in Lake’s petition to the Supreme Court, but not based on their legal arguments. The court also acknowledged that at least one of Lake’s claims in her appeal was false, saying that “record does not reflect that 35,563 unaccounted ballots were added to the total count,” a claim that Lake made for the first time in her petition to the Supreme Court.
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