PHOENIX — Kari Lake, who lost the race for governor, is permitted to attempt to demonstrate in court that criminal tampering with the ballot printers in Maricopa County contributed to lost votes for her, a judge determined late on Monday. Judge Peter Thompson of Maricopa County Superior Court stated in a 13-page statement that he was deferring judgment on Lake’s claim of intentional wrongdoing, one of the authorized grounds for contesting an election in Arizona.
That, he claimed, would follow a two-day trial that would begin on Wednesday. This complaint stems from the fact that many of the 223 voting locations throughout the county had printer issues, resulting in ballots that the on-site tabulators could not scan. Long lineups resulted from some voters rejecting the alternative of placing their ballots in a sealed box to be counted later. Additionally, according to Lake, many people gave up without casting a ballot. She said the votes would have gone to her since Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cast ballots on election day.
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While allowing Lake to continue, Thompson remarked that to win and convince him to ignore the election results, which revealed that she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes, she will need to demonstrate more. The judge stated, “Plaintiff must prove at trial that the malfunctions of the ballot-on-demand printers were purposeful and directed to impact the election results and that such activities affected the outcome.”
Thompson claimed that he is bound by law to consider the facts in a way that preserves the election’s legitimacy, even in the face of doubt. But he added that he must consider Lake’s allegation legitimate, at least for the time being.
‘Court Will Sift in Vain’
According to Abha Khanna, the governor-personal elect’s representative, Lake will have difficulty demonstrating that the election outcome was tainted. She started to Thompson in a hearing earlier on Monday, “The court will sift in vain through pages and pages of declarations for any proof that any votes were fraudulently counted or that any voters we wrongly turned away.” She claimed that almost all those claims were from persons who cast ballots while complaining about issues on election day.
According to such declarations, “at most a small number of voters decided not to vote on Election Day utilizing the options open to them,” Khanna added. That refers to the option for any voter who could not have their ballot immediately tabulated to place it in a sealed box to be counted later at a central location. Additionally, Tom Liddy, a deputy county attorney, noted that since on-site tabulation is not mandated by state law, many Arizona counties do not offer it.
Additionally, Thompson stated that he would permit Lake to provide any proof she possesses that someone at the county’s ballot processing company, Runbeck Election Services, purposefully added “an unknown number of votes” to the final results. That supports her assertion that around 300,000 ballots were not kept in a “chain of custody” by the county, rendering those votes invalid. Additionally, Lake claims that an additional 25,000 ballots were added to the total after Election Day.
Liddy claimed that no laws had been broken. And he said that the 25,000 figure only represents the discrepancy between the county’s public estimates of the number of ballots received on November 8 and more precise totals two days after all early ballots left at voting stations were counted.
Lake: ‘This is Far From Over
According to Thompson, a trial is the only appropriate venue to ascertain whether the county complied with its manual and state statutes on custody paperwork. Even if Lake can demonstrate some noncompliance, the judge added, she still needs to demonstrate that it “was both purposeful and did result in an altered outcome.” The choice to allow a trial on these matters comes despite Hobbs’ attempts to dismiss the entire case while acting as both the secretary of state and the governor-elect who defeated Lake. Distinct attorneys represented Hobbs in these capacities.
Lake praised the decision in a tweet. She wrote that Katie Hobbs failed to get our case dismissed. Lake added that she would have to take the witness stand and give a statement. “Hold on, America. This is not done yet.” This assertion that Hobbs will have to appear in court stems from Thompson’s denial of Hobbs’ attorneys’ request to have a subpoena requiring her to appear in court and provide testimony quashed. The judge stated that there is cause to think that Hobbs may be aware of some of the matters he has designated as fit for trial in his capacity as secretary of state.
Several Claims Dismissed
However, Lake was far from a definite winner in Monday’s decision. Other claims were also rejected by the judge, including those made by Olson that Hobbs was a part of “a hidden censorship apparatus set up by the government that would make Orwell blush.” To get a Twitter post concerning the state’s voter registration lists being in the hands of a foreign firm removed, Hobbs’ secretary of state assistant sent information to a central reporting site, which he claims is run by the federal government. Later, Twitter complied.
However, Olson claimed that it gives election officials “the right to promptly flag and remove information, to censor people, that they find undesirable.” Thompson was not persuaded. Even if the confirmed statement did establish an unlawful restriction on the plaintiff’s (or anybody else’s) right to free speech, Thompson reasoned that it would not show election law violations.
The judge also rejected two distinct but connected arguments on early voting. According to Lake, the only way to verify the legitimacy of a signature on an early ballot is to compare it to the county’s information on the voter’s registration record. However, county officials have acknowledged that they also consult other documents, such as past requests for early voting. As a result, “tens of thousands of illegitimate votes were smuggled into the system,” claims Olson.
Mail-in Vote Challenge Rejected
The question of whether the county’s signature-matching process was legal was not addressed by Thompson. Instead, he said, Lake has been aware that the county might not abide by the law since at least April — when Attorney General Mark Brnovich publicly raised the matter. Thompson countered that she can’t use that now because she’s waited to try to rig the election.
Thompson also rejected Lake’s argument that the mail-in ballot system is invalid because there is no way to guarantee that a voter’s vote will stay secret. It’s just that Arizona’s existing regulations, which permit anyone to request an early ballot, were enacted in 1991, so this isn’t a brand-new problem, the judge noted. According to Thompson, Lake could have prevented this issue at any point in the last 30 years. “To do so now is to invite misunderstanding and prejudice when absolutely no justification for the excessive delay has been provided.”
Lake is not the only person to bring up the subject. Earlier this year, Judge Lee Jantzen of the Mohave County Superior Court rejected arguments made by the Arizona Republican Party that lawmakers broke the state constitution by passing the 1991 statute. The state GOP is contesting that decision.
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