Arizona Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ruled Monday night that two issues at the heart of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s election challenge will go to trial.
The lawsuit filed against Maricopa County election officials and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs challenged the validity of Hobbs’ win over Lake by just over 17,000 votes in the Nov. 8 governor’s race.
Hobbs and Maricopa County had filed a motion to dismiss the entire election challenge.
Thompson set aside eight of 10 counts of Lake’s complaint, including whether the state followed the law regarding signature verification of mail-in ballots, as well as Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s involvement in founding and helping raise funds for a political action committee dedicated to defeating MAGA Republican candidates like Lake.
The judge also dismissed claims that Republicans’ constitutional rights to equal protection and due process were violated on Election Day by the county’s conduct of the contest.
Several media outlets made much of Thompson’s decision to dismiss the majority of the counts in Lake’s suit and played down the fact that the heart of it went forward.
Phoenix Fox affiliate KSAZ-TV tweeted, “A Maricopa County judge has dismissed most of Kari Lake’s election lawsuit.” Lake’s campaign rightly identified the tweet as “spin.”
This is spin by @FOX10Phoenix.
We will be allowed to argue before the court that the machines were compromised & that the chain of custody was broken casting the entire election in doubt.
We are excited to make our case. https://t.co/SN6rNskNo5
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) December 20, 2022
At the core of Lake’s legal complaint are Count 2, involving Election Day ballot printer issues, and Count 4, involving chain-of-custody documentation affecting over 300,000 ballots.
Count 2 states that the ballot-on-demand printers and tabulators were not properly certified prior to Election Day, when, according to Lake’s legal team, 59 percent of polling stations (132 locations) had machines malfunction. Hours-long lines resulted in many of these locations.
The county has said 70 sites were impacted — about one-third.
Lake argued that since Republicans outvoted Democrats 3 to 1 on Election Day, what happened was large-scale voter suppression of her supporters.
All other counts have been dismissed by Judge Thompson. pic.twitter.com/eEmV8wPvBj
— The AZ – abc15 – Data Guru (@Garrett_Archer) December 20, 2022
Thompson ruled the ballot-on-demand printers did not have to be certified because they are not part of the vote-counting process.
He wrote in his order that Lake’s team must show at trial that someone interfered with the settings on the printers, which would be a violation of Arizona law, and that the interference resulted in “identifiable lost votes” affecting the outcome of the election.
Given the 17,000 votes separating Lake and Hobbs, it would take a net of about 130 Lake supporters being prevented or discouraged from voting at each of the 132 ill-functioning polling stations to make the difference. If the true number of polling locations experiencing issues was 70, that would translate to 240 Lake voters per site.
Poll worker Mike Peterson told the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors this month that over 500 voters at his polling location in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix were in effect disenfranchised, and that’s just one site at the end of Election Day.
Here is the problem w/ what happened in Maricopa County on Election Day. This is Anthem, north of Phoenix at about 1:15 pm. Ruby red district of about 30K people. Only one polling location. Ballot tabulators not working in the morning. 2 hr wait to vote midday and still at 6 pm. pic.twitter.com/CY35yQWwq5
— Randy DeSoto (@RandyDeSoto) November 14, 2022
Thompson is also allowing Count 4 of Lake’s election suit to go to trial, which alleges chain-of-custody issues involving over 300,000 ballots.
Lake’s complaint states, “Maricopa County failed to maintain and document the required secure chain of custody for hundreds of thousands of ballots, in violation of Arizona law, including … for over 298,942 delivered to Runbeck.” Runbeck Election Services is the company the county uses for processing and scanning ballots.
According to Lake’s legal team, a whistleblower at Runbeck said she witnessed large numbers of ballots being delivered without documentation.
“Chain of custody documentation must show the location, ballot container seal numbers, date, time and ballot couriers for every transfer. Yet ballots were transferred without documentation of chain of custody,” Lake’s lawsuit says.
In April, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office released a report finding that between 100,000 and 200,000 ballots lacked proper chain-of-custody documentation in the 2020 general election in Maricopa County. So chain-of-custody documentation appears to be an ongoing problem in the county.
The whistleblower also stated that Runbeck employees were able to add ballots of family members at the facility in violation of state law. “There is no way to know whether 50 ballots or 50,000 were unlawfully added into the election in this way,” Lake’s legal team wrote.
Thompson made clear in his order that both allegations, if true, would be a violation of Arizona election law.
Lake celebrated her election challenge going to trial at Turning Point USA’s America Fest in Phoenix on Tuesday.
“Christmas came early yesterday. We are going to trial. This is so historic,” she said.
On Sunday, I got on stage at #AmFest2022 and asked all of you to pray for us.
On Monday, we went to court.
Today, I took the stage again to announce our massive Legal WIN!
This week, Katie Hobbs will take the witness stand.
Never underestimate the Power of Prayer. pic.twitter.com/b8XyzHh0uM
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) December 20, 2022
Lake stated that the trial will take place on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We need you to continue to pray for our team. This is serious stuff. … We have a chance to show the world that our elections are truly corrupt, and we won’t take it anymore,” Lake said.
The fact that over half (or one-third) of polling places experienced major problems pretty much simultaneously on Election Day is strange, to say the least.
This trial will be something to see!
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