Kari Lake speaks at a campaign event in Scottsdale on Oct. 19, 2022. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
More than 10 months after she lost the 2022 race for Arizona governor, Republican Kari Lake is still fighting the results of the election, telling an appeals court that Maricopa County “engineered the Election Day chaos.”
Lake and her attorneys have yet to stop their quest to overturn the results of the election that she lost by more than 17,000 votes to Democrat Katie Hobbs. She challenged the results in a December 2022 trial that she lost, and then took her case to an Arizona appeals court and then the Arizona Supreme Court, which agreed with the trial judge on all but one count.
Lake lost another trial on that count in May. On Sept. 15, she appealed those results.
However, Lake’s latest appeal, filed by Scottsdale divorce lawyer Bryan Blehm and Washington, D.C., employment attorney Kurt Olsen, goes well beyond the scope of a typical appeal, citing claims that were not part of the May trial — claims that have already been rejected by the trial, appeals and state supreme courts.
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In the most recent appeal, Lake and her lawyers doubled down on their claims of election fraud. Instead of making assertions that Maricopa County ran the election incompetently, or that some unnamed bad actors within the system injected illegal ballots, Lake took the claims a step further, accusing the county as a whole of engineering and planning what her lawyers described as “chaos” on Election Day 2022.
In last week’s appeal, Lake disputed Maricopa Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson’s determination at the end of the May trial that Maricopa County conducted signature verification for all mail-in and early-voting ballots that Lake’s team asked the court to consider.
During the three-day trial, Lake and her lawyers claimed that as many as 275,000 ballot envelope signatures, meant to confirm the identity of the voter, were reviewed and approved more quickly than humanly possible, in three seconds or fewer.
Elections officials from Maricopa County testified that affirmation of matching signatures could sometimes be completed in as little as a second, and Thompson ultimately agreed with them.
But Blehm argued in the appeal that elections workers didn’t follow signature comparison procedures outlined in the Elections Procedures Manual, which has the force of law.
“Maricopa created a façade of transparency and science to mislead the public about the integrity and scientific rigor of its signature-verification process,” Blehm wrote.
He went on to conclude that the appellate court should either set aside thousands of votes for both candidates, proportional to the number for which Lake claims signatures were never verified, overturning the election results in Lake’s favor and naming her the governor of the state, or hold a new election. He claimed that setting aside at least 164,093 votes would be enough to give Lake the victory.
But in addition to challenging Thompson’s decision in the latest trial in May, Lake and her lawyers also returned to some of their previous claims that Thompson dismissed. Her attempt to pursue those claims was also rejected by the Appeals Court and Supreme Court, essentially meaning that they’re no longer a part of the case.
Blehm wrote in the latest appeal that, in the original December 2022 trial, Thompson erroneously dismissed Lake’s claim that Republicans were disenfranchised on Election Day because of problems with tabulators that rejected thousands of ballots that day, causing long lines and frustration for voters.
Because Republicans who voted in-person on Election Day in Maricopa County outnumbered Democrats by almost four to one, Blehm argued that they were illegally disenfranchised by the tabulator problems.
The county has repeatedly assured voters that all legal ballots cast on Election Day were eventually counted, even if the tabulators at polling places rejected them. Lake’s team has not produced any evidence refuting that claim.
Her team also wrote, based on what they called “new evidence” that the county didn’t conduct required logic and accuracy tests on the tabulators, that county officials lied about the tests in court and that the county knew beforehand that the tabulators would not work properly on Election Day. The new evidence included logs from the tabulators that showed that 260 of them rejected ballots during logic and accuracy tests last October.
The county in a previous court filing said that Lake’s team was misreading the logs, attributing every ballot misread to a serious malfunction with the equipment when some were due to ballots being inserted slightly askew or a paper jam.
Lake and her lawyers also continued to insist that “malware or remote administration changes (w)as the cause of thousands of misconfigured fit-to-page ballots,” which contributed to the tabulator problems. Lake claimed that an independent investigation into Election Day issues in Maricopa County led by former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, which could not determine why four of the printers randomly printed using “fit to page” settings, proved that malware or intentionally changed settings caused the issue.
They claim that the combination of a purported lack of signature verification and issues for in-person voters on Election Day specifically targeted and disenfranchised Republican voters at a much higher rate than Democratic ones.
But Lake’s attorneys acknowledged they had no substantive evidence of wrongdoing by Maricopa County, repeatedly using the word “infer” in the filing, claiming that one could infer from the disproportionate impact on Republican voters that Maricopa County “engineered the Election Day chaos.”
“While the record may not establish whether Maricopa’s intentional acts merely resulted in Election Day chaos or whether Maricopa affirmatively planned that chaos, the most likely inference is the latter,” Blehm wrote.
The defendants in the case, including Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, have until Oct. 26 to respond to the appeal.
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