By Corinne Murdock |
On Monday, the Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s case. Tuesday, Lake announced the launch of the “largest ballot chasing operation” in state history, which she clarified was a voter registration initiative for the upcoming election year.
Leading the initiative, backed financially with the Save Arizona Fund, will be longtime grassroots activist Merissa Hamilton.
Lake asserted that her team had proven “beyond a shadow of a doubt” to the Maricopa County Superior Court the brokenness of the state’s election system. However, despite her court loss, Lake pledged to continue to fight for election wins. Lake said that left-wing political actors shouldn’t be the only ones that conduct voter registration.
“We’ve got to work in this rigged, corrupt system, and we can do it,” said Lake.
Lake said that while she opposes mail-in ballots, she believes that the current election system requires participation to win. She claimed that about 500,000 Republican and independent voters combined were sent a mail-in ballot that they didn’t return.
“If this is the game we have to play, if this is their rigged system, we’ll work in their rigged system,” said Lake.
The Arizona Supreme Court granted a review of Lake’s challenge in March.
In Monday’s ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson explained that Lake failed to prove that election officials engaged in misconduct that affected the results of the gubernatorial election. Thompson ruled that Lake’s presentation of evidence that the signature review process was unlawful didn’t provide certainty that a specific number of ballots were impacted by the allegedly quick review.
Thompson cited several testimonies presented by Lake’s witnesses, who reported a preference for a more hasty and thorough signature review process but admitted that the multiple signature reviews required by law were completed. He said it was Lake’s own witnesses that confirmed the counties had abided by election law concerning signature processes, and rejected Lake’s argument based on Reyes v. Cuming that proper elections administration wasn’t adhered to and therefore hindered their ability to argue on a specific number of affected ballots.
“[T]his review was done hastily and possibly not as thoroughly as [complainants] would have liked — but it was done,” wrote Thompson. “This evidence is, in its own right, clear indicia that the comparative process was undertaken in compliance with the statute, putting us outside the scope of Reyes. There is clear and convincing evidence that the elections process for the November 8, 2022, General Election did comply with A.R.S. § 16-550 and that there was no misconduct in the process to support a claim under A.R.S. § 16-672.”
Lake’s team argued that the ballot signatures were processed much too quickly — under one second — to be in compliance with the spirit of the law. Thompson dismissed this argument, saying that time constraints weren’t outlined in the Election Procedures Manual (EPM) and therefore weren’t a standard that could be held against the counties.
“Plaintiff argues that this is so deficient for signature comparison that it amounts to no process at all. Accepting that argument would require the Court to rewrite not only the EPM but Arizona law to insert a minimum time for signature verification and specify the variables to be considered in the process,” stated Thompson. “Plaintiff asks the Court to interpret the word ‘compare’ in A.R.S. § 16-550(A) to require the Court to engage in a substantive weighing of whether Maricopa County’s signature verification process, as implemented, met some analytical baseline. But there are several problems with this. First, no such baseline appears in Section 16-550. Not one second, not three seconds, and not six seconds: no standard appears in the plain text of the statute. No reviewer is required by statute or the EPM to spend any specific length of time on any particular signature.”
Thompson stated the Lake’s witnesses were truthful in their testimonies.
“The Court makes no finding of dishonesty by any witness — and commends those signature reviewers who stepped forward to critique the process as they understood it,” said Thompson.
Thompson declared that no further matters remained on the case, save costs sought by the state and county election officials. Thompson issued a 5:00 pm Tuesday deadline for proposed form of judgment from the defendants, with a 5:00 pm Wednesday deadline for objection to those proposals by Lake’s team.