By Corinne Murdock |
On Wednesday, the Arizona Supreme Court granted a review to gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in her challenge of the 2022 election’s validity.
The court dismissed six of the seven issues presented by Lake. The one granted review concerned Maricopa County’s signature verification policies. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel determined that the trial court had wrongly dismissed this issue by interpreting it as a challenge to the policies themselves rather than the application of the policies.
The issue asks:
“Did the panel err in dismissing the signature-verification claim on laches, mischaracterizing Lake’s claim as a challenge to existing signature verification policies, when Lake in fact alleged that Maricopa failed to follow these policies during the 2022 general election?”
Lake alleged that Maricopa County violated A.R.S. § 16-550(A), claiming that a material number of early ballots cast in the election were transmitted in envelopes containing an affidavit signature that election officials accepted despite determining that it didn’t match the signature on that voter’s registration record.
In a press release, Lake characterized the ruling as a win. She called Maricopa County’s signature verification system “completely broken,” and claimed the county was “absolutely terrified” of transparency.
Court watchers say the court has remanded the signature verification issue to the trial court to reconsider the motion to dismiss on grounds other than laches. If the court determines there are no legally sufficient grounds to dismiss, then the court must hold a trial to review the relevant evidence to determine if an outcome determinative number of early ballots were accepted without appropriate signature verification.
While this ruling offers Lake the opportunity to review the signature process, it likely won’t change the outcome of the trial based on the lead in votes by Gov. Katie Hobbs: over 17,100. On the other hand, the court’s signal that it would allow a trial may be favorable for attorney general candidate Abe Hamdeh.
Hamadeh is recorded as losing the election to Democratic opponent, Attorney General Kris Mayes, by just under 300 votes.
Hamadeh appealed the election after the recount discovered that Pinal County undercounted hundreds of ballots, halving Mayes’ original lead from over 511 to under 300.
Mass failures of election machines on Election Day, specifically stemming from the printers, caused long waiting times at vote centers and, in some instances, caused voters to either be discouraged from voting or unable to vote due to time constraints. Those who did stay and were unable to cast a regular ballot due to tabulator issues were forced to cast provisional ballots. Over 17,000 voters filed provisional ballots.