The state of our republic is the foremost concern for Abe Hamadeh. Arizona is in a position to define it, specifically based on the outcome of Hamadeh’s election challenge.
“The idea of America, whether we are a nation that is ruled and governed by ‘we the people’ is threatened,” said Hamadeh in an interview with AZ Free News. “It’s the idea that Americans have lost faith in the idea that our elections are fair and honest. Once you lose confidence in that, you lose confidence in other aspects of America — like the rule of law.”
Hamadeh said that the recently released Durham report epitomized these concerns. The Department of Justice’s 306-page findings on the weaponization of the federal government against former President Donald Trump shined a clear light on the current nature of government and media, and the vital importance of an honest judiciary to hold them accountable.
“I sit back, and in its plainest terms: it was an attempted coup on President Trump. How there’s no accountability for that, how Hillary can collude with Russia to create a fake dossier, and this is what Durham has reported. That’s frightening,” said Hamadeh. “I recognize the power of the media, and it’s something I never thought I had a good grasp on. I thought they were generally biased but trying to be factual. But now I’ve discovered that the fourth estate has been totally corrupted, and there’s nobody holding the government accountable. The only thing we’ve got left to hold it accountable is the independent judiciary, which has been threatened by the left.”
It’s his deep concern for the direction of our nation, starting with the state of our elections, that affords him the boundless energy to continue his challenge of the 2022 attorney general election. Hamadeh engaged in oral arguments last week to argue for a new trial, based on the evidence they’ve found of disenfranchised voters.
“I think it goes much deeper than me winning. I’m fighting because I’m fighting for the truth, the people’s voice, and their votes to be honored. I think that’s a noble cause. Whether we succeed or fail, the government’s incompetence, the media’s hypocrisy, and the truth. And the truth is I won,” said Hamadeh. “How can we survive as a country when we no longer have faith in our elections or rule of law? What is the government at this point?”
Mayes was declared the winner initially with a 511-vote lead. The recount slashed that lead to 280. Yet, there are thousands of provisional votes — over 9,000, an increase from the estimated 8,000 reported in April — that weren’t included in the final count. About 70 percent of Election Day voters were for Hamadeh. Hamadeh said these additional provisional votes took as long as they did to discover because of the delay in response from the counties.
“We have to get information from 15 different government agencies, and it’s complicated,” said Hamadeh. “I wish we had access to the information that the government has. That’s why we’re asking for a new trial.”
“Statutes don’t trump the Arizona Constitution.”
Arguments from his opponents — Attorney General Kris Mayes and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes — focused mainly on how much time has passed since the election, the recount, and Mayes taking office. Hamadeh said that didn’t matter, asserting that Hunt v. Campbell ruled that the Arizona Constitution made immutably clear that the person with the most votes is deemed the legitimate officeholder.
“Even with a recount provision, even with a statutory timeline, none of that trumps the Arizona Constitution. All that allows is a statutory tool to make a process to determine who has the most votes and who is the legitimate officeholder,” said Hamadeh.
Hunt v. Campbell concerned the last major election challenge in a close race: over 100 years ago, in the 1916 gubernatorial election. Mayes’ counsel argued that the precedent was inapplicable since the ruling came before statutory timelines for elections were established. However, the judge rebutted in closing that there was a recount provision in place at the time of the Hunt v. Campbell decision.
Of all that the attorney general’s counsel did argue, they never claimed that Mayes obtained the most votes. Hamadeh’s team presented evidence of existing votes not counted, claims which went uncontested by the opposition. When given their turn to speak, Maricopa County didn’t offer any arguments of their own.
Based on what he’d witnessed, Hamadeh said he didn’t believe Mayes’ team came prepared. He believed it evinced a troubling, baseless confidence that the case was over before it had even begun, speculating that the consistency of favorable media coverage played a role as well.
“I think they were trying to treat our case the same as that of Mark Finchem or Kari Lake, or some of these cases with a larger margin,” said Hamadeh. “When they control the media and the government, they feel really emboldened to – it’s almost this hubris where they don’t think this judge will do something.”
Before Hamadeh had the complete voter data handed over from the counties to argue his case fully, The Washington Post editorial board wrote in a post-New Year’s piece that his defeat symbolized an end to election denialism.
“It brings me a lot of joy when we keep discovering the truth.”
Hamadeh pointed out that the media has trotted out the phrase “count all the votes” on repeat since 2020 — which he says is exactly what his case is all about. I’m fighting for the truth. I’m actually scared that these people are running our government and controlling our media.
“The government hasn’t counted all legitimate ballots,” said Hamadeh. “The media always argues, you have to count every single vote. I intend to show their hypocrisy. I have a lot of fun. I’m basically doing what I said I was doing as attorney general, which is exposing corruption, incompetence, and hypocrisy for the truth. I’m enjoying it.”
Hamadeh shared that he asked a group of about 100 attendees at a recent Republican Federation for Women event how many of them knew of someone who had lost faith in their elections and would no longer vote because of what happened last November. According to Hamadeh, every single hand went up.
“It breaks my heart that they’ve lost faith and confidence, and their solution — it’s not a solution — is ‘why vote?’”
Hamadeh claims that the 280 margin isn’t that unreasonable to question considering the myriad hiccups throughout last year’s election season. Last October, Gov. Katie Hobbs in her former capacity as secretary of state revealed that there were 6,000 Arizonans mistakenly registered as federal-only voters.
“This is 280 votes, and the government has already admitted to making these big mistakes,” said Hamadeh. “Why would Katie Hobbs not have done the right thing by telling the court and us if they didn’t have anything to gain?”
Hobbs neglected to disclose the undervotes in the attorney general race until after the December hearing. She claimed that the Maricopa County Superior Court order to prevent disclosure of the recount results prevented her from disclosing the undervotes, but Hamadeh said that wasn’t the case.
“Their actions speak louder than anything I have to say,” said Hamadeh. “We were in court arguing about undervote issues, and they [Hobbs’ team] didn’t say anything. They should not be the ones that take a side in an election contest. They should be the ones doing their jobs as government officials.”
“I wish Republicans had as much a desire to save the country as Democrats have in destroying it.”
Hamadeh said that losing this case would close the door to challenging elections in the future.
“If we don’t prevail, the idea that you can’t question elections and election officials and the government itself regarding elections, is going to only get worse,” said Hamadeh. “My family came from Syria. I know from their experience what it’s like to not live in a democracy, to not be able to question your government. That’s exactly what the media, ironically, and the Democrats are leading us to right now.”
Hamadeh characterized his fight as a natural extension of a uniquely American duty: to serve as a check and balance on the government by questioning it.
“It’s not only our right to question the government, it’s also our duty. Especially when there are this many errors, this much incompetence regarding our elections,” said Hamadeh. “I’m fighting because I think questioning our government is the foundation of what being an American is; if we lose that, we basically lose our country.”
After last week’s oral arguments concluded, Mayes issued a fundraising email asking for campaign and legal fund donations.
“With regard to the never-ending lawsuit… it was more ‘we think’ drama, without factual evidence,” wrote Mayes.
Hamadeh says he hasn’t issued any similar fundraising emails.
Abe Hamadeh argued for a new trial on Tuesday before the Mohave County Superior Court.
The judge, Lee Jantzen, seemed interested in sampling the evidence presented by Hamadeh’s team in the case, Boyd v. Mayes, despite multiple objections from opposition. Arguments presented by the opposition — the attorney general, secretary of state, and Maricopa and Pima counties — mainly focused on the amount of time that’s transpired since the election and Hamadeh’s December trial. Arguments presented by Hamadeh’s team focused on evidence of allegedly disenfranchised voters, claiming that hundreds of “lost” (uncounted) votes from undervotes and provisional ballots proved that Hamadeh won the race.
Lawyers present for the oral arguments included former assistant attorney general Jen Wright, State Rep. Alex Kolodin (R-LD03), and James Sabalos for Hamadeh; Alexis Danneman and Paul Eckstein for Attorney General Kris Mayes; Craig Morgan for Secretary of State Adrian Fontes; Daniel Jurkowitz for Pima County; and Joseph La Rue for Maricopa County.
Sabalos opened up the oral arguments, quoting Thomas Jefferson and summarizing general discoveries in the course of their months-long review of voter data as a precursor to Wright’s arguments.
“We do not have a government by the majority; we have a government by the majority who vote,” quoted Sabalos.
Sabalos insisted their case wasn’t about fraud, but about the evidence and facts supporting the reality of Hamadeh as the winner of last November’s election contest. He claimed that Gov. Katie Hobbs, in her former capacity as secretary of state, was aware of and neglected to immediately publicize 63 Pinal County undervotes that lent to Hamadeh’s claims last December of lost votes.
Sabalos said this intentional concealment of facts served to handicap their team’s due diligence of reviewing election data for the courts. Sabalos further claimed that there were 76,339 votes counted as undervotes in the attorney general’s contest. Of the approximately 2,000 ballots they inspected, 14 were misread (.61 percent). With that percentage applied to the larger total of undervotes statewide, Sabalos said that amounted to 466 or more votes — more than the 288-vote lead Mayes holds over Hamadeh.
Sabalos then claimed that there were uncounted provisional ballots that constituted legal votes, and that the majority of those would’ve turned in favor of Hamadeh.
“We don’t come today with hyperbole or speculation. We come with some reasonably solid evidence, and we need a heck of a lot more for this judge and this court to get its hands around,” said Sabalos.
Wright followed up Sabalos’ arguments by first focusing on Hobbs. She said that Hobbs didn’t fulfill her duty of being a neutral, nominal party, since Hobbs argued heavily that Hamadeh had no evidence to support his claims, while allegedly knowing of the dozens of undervotes recovered during the recount, and pushed for his case to be dismissed. Wright further noted that Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett admitted during the December trial that he wasn’t sure why certain votes weren’t counted, and instead counted as undervotes.
Wright expanded on Sabalos’ claim of the 63 undervotes, noting that they were counted as valid during the recount. Wright asserted that Hobbs knew of this fact, which she said rendered Hamadeh’s claims during the December trial valid. Wright also dismissed Hobbs’ claim that she was under an order preventing her from disclosing the undervotes, since the order only applied to counties discussing the recount results from vote totals. Wright claimed that the judge would’ve permitted Hamadeh a review of the evidence had Hobbs been forthright all those months ago.
“I find it questionable that a government agent would take support of or opposition to a candidate in an election contest,” said Wright.
Wright further noted that Hamadeh was unable to obtain the provisional ballot data from Maricopa County until days after the trial occurred, further hindering his ability to meet statutory deadlines.
When Wright attempted to discuss the evidentiary numbers on undervotes, both Mayes and Fontes’ legal teams raised objections. The judge overruled their objections, however.
Wright claimed that their team interviewed hundreds of high-propensity voters affected by statewide computer system changes, which allegedly altered their registration address without their consent and therefore deprived them of the right to vote. She claimed that over 1,100 Election Day provisional voters were disenfranchised.
Election Day votes went overwhelmingly for Hamadeh: over 69 percent to nearly 29 percent for Mayes. Wright said that this would mean about 760 of provisional ballots would be for Hamadeh, and 316 for Mayes. By Wright’s math, Hamadeh would prevail on the provisional ballot issue alone by 165 votes.
Wright further noted that their team had collected sworn affidavits of hundreds of voters claiming disenfranchisement due to bureaucratic failures. When she attempted to read the account of one allegedly disenfranchised voter, Mayes’ team raised an objection. The judge promptly overruled.
The allegedly disenfranchised Maricopa County voter, Marlena, attempted to vote on Election Day but was denied. Marlena had reportedly experienced issues with the county’s registration system for months: earlier that year, she discovered that her registration had changed without her knowledge and consent. Wright presented evidence that on October 10, 2022, Marlena attempted to correct her voter registration before the deadline. Wright also presented evidence from Maricopa County confirming Marlena’s registration. Yet, she was denied on Election Day.
Danneman, Mayes’ lawyer, said Hamadeh’s claims were speculative and based on unsworn opinions. She emphasized repeatedly the timeliness of his contest, noting that it has been over five months since the December trial and that their team could only present an argument that they needed more time to look for votes.
Danneman further rejected the argument that Hamadeh should be granted a new trial to undertake further investigation. She said that evidence must be material, in existence at the time of trial, and not be discovered with reasonable diligence.
She added that Hamadeh’s request for a more complete ballot inspection proved there wasn’t any newly-discovered evidence warranting a new trial.
The provisional voters list didn’t hold much weight in Danneman’s view. She claimed Hamadeh was undertaking a “fishing expedition” for evidence, which she pointed out was prohibited by court precedent.
“This list of names proves nothing,” said Danneman. “The plaintiffs had their day in court.”
Morgan, with Fontes, added that it was “long past time” for this election contest to end. He said that Hamadeh’s challenge impugns the validity of election processes as well as the integrity of election officials.
La Rue with Maricopa County concurred. Jurkowitz with Pima County argued further that statute time bars any further contest.
Following the hearing, Hamadeh expressed optimism that the oral arguments ultimately were in his favor.
The judge promised to issue a ruling within the next couple of weeks.
“We have more votes than Kris Mayes. It’s up to the courts to decide to count them.” – Abe Hamadeh
Recent analysis of uncounted provisional ballots in November’s attorney general race make a compelling case that Abe Hamadeh received more legal votes than Kris Mayes.
The 2022 faceoff between Hamadeh and Mayes serves as one of the closest races in Arizona’s history. It’s on par with one other historically significant race that was ultimately overturned, even after both the Maricopa County Superior Court and a Democratic Secretary of State had declared a winner: the 1916 gubernatorial election.
However, the year-long contention of that election had to do with the design of the ballots confusing voters on their vote. This time around, just over 100 years later, the issue concerned voters whose votes were denied to them due to government missteps and failures with election administration.
Last Tuesday, the Mohave County Superior Court granted Hamadeh oral arguments in his motion for a new trial challenging the outcome of his election based on hundreds of allegedly disenfranchised voters. That will occur in about a month, on May 16. Hamadeh shared that they have over 250 affidavits from allegedly disenfranchised voters at present. The vote margin difference is 280.
According to all counties’ data, there are roughly 8,000 provisional ballots outstanding. Hamadeh led on day-of voters statewide, winning an average of 70 percent of the votes. Provisional ballots may heavily favor him, due to the additional fact that day-of votes were generally 2 to 1 Republican.
“All data points suggest that it favors Republicans,” said Hamadeh.
It appears that, due to the mass tabulator failures, there were less voters but more provisional ballots cast this past election year. Rejection rates of these provisional ballots increased sharply across several counties: Santa Cruz County’s rejections increased from one out of the 117 provisional ballots cast to 83 out of the 139 provisional ballots cast. Pima County’s rejection rate doubled.
Despite Pinal County having a comparable number of provisional ballots cast in 2020 and 2022, their rejection rate increased from 59 to 63 percent.
Yavapai County more than doubled its rejection of provisional ballots this past election than in 2020 based on non-registration, despite having a significant decline in voter turnout (over 87 percent versus just over 75 percent).
Further data will be published in full as court proceedings continue. Hamadeh shared that his legal team is awaiting some data from several counties, which he said would bolster their case.
“As more data comes in, it’s getting worse for the government and looking better for us,” said Hamadeh.
Another development that could impact Hamadeh’s case is the divorce between Democrats’ top election lawyer, Marc Elias, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Elias is engaged in an ongoing federal lawsuit fighting for the voting rights of those voters whose registration was canceled. Elias is fighting for all provisional ballots to be counted — an outcome that would be favorable for Hamadeh’s case, when it was originally intended to be favorable to Democratic interests.
Hamadeh’s legal and analytics teams estimate that over 1,000 voters had their voter registration erroneously canceled due to government system issues. That’s separate from the 8,000 provisional ballots outstanding.
Hamadeh’s team also discovered 750 high-propensity voters whose registrations were wrongly canceled. Of that number, only 176 showed up on Election Day.
“It’s really a screwed up situation,” said Hamadeh. “If you can imagine, the disenfranchisement is even bigger than what we’re arguing.”
Bureaucratic mismanagement resulting in voter registration failures is nothing new, especially for Maricopa County. In 2020, thousands of voters were nearly disenfranchised by intergovernmental miscommunication.
Hamadeh dismissed the argument from some outlets that high-propensity voters should’ve taken more steps to ensure they were registered, saying that doesn’t excuse the government’s failure.
“If you’re on PEVL [Permanent Early Voting List] and you expect your ballot to come but it doesn’t, you’re disenfranchised,” said Hamadeh.
Hamadeh referenced one case he called “egregious,” where a father paying his college daughter’s vehicle registration unknowingly had his registration transferred to a different county — all because his daughter was going to college in a different county.
“Without any notice by the way, he never got any notice. And we know he never intended to go to Coconino because he doesn’t have a house there or anything,” said Hamadeh.
There was also the case of Howard, a visually-impaired disabled veteran whose voter registration was canceled through bureaucratic error, unbeknownst to him, and left him without his voting power in this last election. Hamadeh insisted that Democrats’ refusal to see Howard as the victim in this case was hypocritical.
“The media and Democrats are trying to say this is voter error. But in every single election incident, just two years ago, they were arguing against these voter registration cancellations,” said Hamadeh.
Then there’s the 269 voters who showed up on election day with their mail-in ballot and checked in — but never had their vote counted. Yet, on the county’s end, those check-ins reflect votes cast. Of those 269 who dropped off mail-in ballots that weren’t counted, 149 were Republicans, 53 were Democrats, and 67 were “other.” Hamadeh reported that many of those voters told his team that their votes weren’t counted.
With a 280 vote margin between Mayes and Hamadeh, any of these contested provisional or mail-in ballots may result in the first race overturned in nearly a century.