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Flashback: Previous Arizona Gubernatorial Election Was Overturned

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Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake on Wednesday appealed a Maricopa County judge’s ruling against her election challenge of Democrat Katie Hobbs’ win.

Lake has pledged on multiple occasions that she will take her case all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, if necessary.

It would not be unprecedented if the high court decided in her favor overturning the election, even after the trial court ruled the other way.

There is also precedent for an election being overturned even after a “winner” of the governor’s race was sworn in and began to serve.

In November 1916, when “State 48” was young, its very first governor, Democrat George Wylie Paul Hunt, was running for a third two-year term, Phoenix Magazine reported.

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Then, as now, the format of the ballot itself played a major role in the election.

Republican Thomas E. Campbell defeated Hunt by 30 votes out of the 55,922 cast.

Hunt paid for a recount, but it still showed Campbell to be the winner, and the Republican was certified as such.

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Hunt filed an election challenge lawsuit, arguing the ballot themselves were the problem. The way it was formatted allowed voters to choose a straight-party ticket or to vote for individual candidates.

The lower court ruled that voters who checked both a Democratic straight-party ticket and chose Campbell individually had intended to vote for the Republican and that was the difference in the contest.

Hunt refused to leave office, but the Arizona Supreme Court stepped in and ruled that Campbell would be the “de facto governor” while Hunt’s legal challenge wound its way through the court system.

In May 1917, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in Campbell’s favor on the ballot issue, according to Phoenix Magazine.

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Hunt appealed the case the next month. Finally, in December, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in Hunt’s favor, concluding that the ballots that were double-marked were invalid and should be thrown out.

Hunt won by 43 votes and was sworn in as governor on Christmas Day 1917. Campbell had served nearly a year in the office.

Will history repeat itself?

As in 1916, we have a certified winner in Hobbs and a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ruled in her favor.

The legal challenge appears likely to continue after the Democrat is sworn in on Monday, Jan. 2.

Lake filed a notice of appeal Wednesday, stating she will be filing with the Arizona Court of Appeals. A Supreme Court appeal by the losing party will likely follow after that.

Lake will ask the court to consider all 10 counts she included in her original complaint.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson set aside eight counts in Lake’s complaint, allowing just two to go to trial regarding the ballot printers and ballot chain of custody.

On Election Day, ballot printers malfunctioned due to wrong settings in 59 percent of polling locations, according to sworn testimony, though the county claims about one-third of sites (70 in all) were impacted.

The misprinted ballots could not be read by ballot tabulators, causing or contributing to hours-long lines forming in many of these locations.

Lake argued that since Republicans voted 3-to-1 over Democrats on Election Day, what happened was large-scale vote suppression of her supporters.

In addition to printer issues, Lake alleged over 300,000 ballots lacked chain-of-custody documentation.

Lake’s legal team also said that the total number of ballots the county reported in the election increased by nearly 25,000 from Nov. 9, the day after the contest, to Nov. 11.

That number is significant because it exceeds Hobbs’ approximately 17,000-vote margin of victory over Lake.

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett told The Western Journal that Maricopa County should have known the total number of ballots on Election Day, or certainly by the day after.

Each voting center, he explained, should have reported the exact number of voters and the number of early ballots that were dropped off.

The county must be able to answer the question, “How many ballots are we responsible for?” Bennett said.

That makes sense, right? If the total universe of ballots expands in the days after the election by a number that happens to exceed “the winner’s” victory margin, that would cause doubts about the integrity of the election.

Lake told talk show host Larry Elder Thursday, “We believe we proved without a shadow of a doubt misconduct, malfeasance, and just complete maladministration in the running of our elections here in Maricopa County.”

 

Lake tweeted earlier this week, “I am standing up for the people of this state. The people who were done wrong on Election Day and the millions of people who live outside of Maricopa County, whose vote was watered down by this bogus election in Maricopa County.”

We’ll see if history will repeat itself. But Lake, like Hunt before her, plans to exercise her full legal rights to ensure the election gets the highest level of scrutiny possible.

CORRECTION, Jan. 2, 2023: George Wylie Paul Hunt was sworn in as Arizona’s governor on Christmas Day 1917. An earlier version of this article gave a different year.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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