Arizona appeals court: 'No basis' for Kari Lake election challenge
'Voters were able to cast their ballots, votes were counted correctly & no other basis justifies setting aside the election'
An Arizona court has shot down losing Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake's election challenge appeal, writing that "that voters were able to cast their ballots, that votes were counted correctly, and that no other basis justifies setting aside the election results."
Lake, a Trump-endorsed Republican and a believer in the "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, has insisted since the November election that victory was also stolen from her grip. The 2022 gubernatorial candidate has spent the months since then lambasting Democrats and other alleged conspirators for intentionally gumming up the works on Election Day in Maricopa County, inserting illegal ballots into the mix and verifying invalid signatures from mail-in voters. But she failed to prove any of those claims in court.
Lake is continuing her fundraising efforts with a promise to take the case to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Arizona's division one Court of Appeals on Feb. 16 affirmed the December decision of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson that Gov. Katie Hobbs won the 2022 race for governor. The appeals court made scathing critiques of some of Lake's legal claims, saying that the only evidence her lawyers provided that ballot printer issues in Maricopa County caused voter disenfranchisement was "quite simply, sheer speculation."
Hobbs, a Democrat, beat Lake by more than 17,000 votes in the November election and was sworn in as governor Jan. 3, as Lake continued to insist in social media posts and on conservative talk shows and podcasts that she was the "real governor..
In her initial election challenge, and in the appeal, Lake asked the courts to either set aside Hobbs' victory and hold a new election or to declare Lake the victor.
The superior court dismissed eight of the 10 counts that Lake initially filed, most of which it said were outside the limited scope of an election contest. During the trial, her lawyers attempted to prove that a Maricopa County election official or officials tampered with ballot-on-demand printers, leading to delays and issues with tabulators that Lake said cost her votes. Her lawyers also worked to prove that election workers violated chain-of-custody requirements for early ballots, allowing some illegal ballots to be added into the mix.
Judge Thompson ultimately ruled that Lake failed to prove any elements of her claims, and the appeals court affirmed that ruling.
In her appeal, Lake asserted that the Superior Court trial was tainted by legal and factual errors, and that one of her claims regarding signature verification for early ballots was erroneously dismissed. The appeals court agreed with Thompson that any suit taking issue with the county's signature verification process should have been filed prior to the election, and not after Lake had lost.
The evidence of voter disenfranchisement that Lake presented during the Superior Court trial was based on voter failure to complete an exit survey, speculation by the man that conducted the survey that the voters who didn't complete it also didn't vote, and an extrapolation of the number of voters who didn't complete the survey to show how many people intended to vote in the election, but didn't.
To invalidate election results, an election challenger must prove that there were enough illegal or erroneous votes to impact the outcome of the election, Chief Judge Kent Cattani wrote in the appeals court decision.
"This rule requires a competent mathematical basis to conclude that the outcome would plausibly have been different, not simply an untethered assertion of uncertainty," he wrote. "Whatever the merits of the expert's actual poll results, his conclusions regarding alleged 'disenfranchise[ment]' were baseless."
The appeals court also dismissed Lake's claim that 25,000 illegal ballots were inserted into the counting process because an initial estimate of the number of early ballots dropped off on Election Day was "over 275,000" while the official count was later shared as 291,890.
"Questionable mathematics aside, Lake does not explain (or offer any legal basis) for how the difference between an initial estimate and a final, precise figure invalidates any vote," Cattani wrote.
The court also denied Hobbs's request for Lake to reimburse her attorney's fees, saying she provided "no substantive basis for the award."
This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.