Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake had her election challenge dismissed by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson Saturday. Following the ruling, Lake tweeted that an appeal would be coming.
“My Election Case provided the world with evidence that proves our elections are run outside of the law. This Judge did not rule in our favor. However, for the sake of restoring faith and honesty in our elections, I will appeal his ruling,” tweeted Lake.
My Election Case provided the world with evidence that proves our elections are run outside of the law. This Judge did not rule in our favor. However, for the sake of restoring faith and honesty in our elections, I will appeal his ruling.
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) December 24, 2022
In his ruling, Thompson stated that the “certainty and accuracy of an election” may not be jeopardized unless the proof presented is of the “most clear and conclusive character.”
In her trial, the court permitted Lake to proceed with two counts, firstly, that printer malfunctions of election day were caused intentionally and changed the outcome of the election and that Maricopa County violated the chain of custody laws in a way that changed the election results.
Mark Sonnenklar, a roving attorney for the Republican National Committee, testified to witnessing the chaos caused by printer issues on election day. Thompson credited Sonnenklar’s observations but said they were insufficient to prove the county intentionally caused any of the problems.
Next, Heather Honey, a supply chain auditor, testified on the chain of custody violations. She stated that the county did not provide proper delivery receipts when transporting drop-off ballots to a third-party company called Runbeck and that Runbeck employees improperly submitted at least 50 ballots into the system. She made a public information inquiry of Maricopa County but did not receive the delivery receipts, leading to her claim. However, on cross-examination, she still admitted that the forms existed, so Thompson said the plaintiffs did not prove beyond doubt that the chain of custody was violated.
As for the 50 ballots, Honey nor her whistleblower contact within Runbeck had any knowledge of Maricopa County permitting this to happen, so the court could not say that this was intentional wrongdoing from the county. Thompson said this argument was the closest plaintiffs came to proving misconduct, but it was still insufficient.
Another issue throughout the trial was 19-inch ballot PDFs printed on 20-inch paper, which would have prevented ballots from being tabulated by machines. Clay Parikh, another witness, inspected ballots from the election and claimed to have found several with this issue, which he stated could only have been done intentionally. However, through admission from plaintiff and defendant witnesses, ballots that face tabulation errors are duplicated and ultimately get counted. Therefore, Thompson said that it could not be proven that any issue, such as a 19-inch ballot, actually affected the outcome.
As for intentionally causing election day issues, testimony from plaintiff witness David Betencourt could not prove anything. He worked an onsite T-Tech for the county on election day, and while he said his team ran into issues, he also said they troubleshot and found methods around most problems. He could not say the problems resulted from county meddling or wrongdoing.
The plaintiff’s final witness, Richard Baris of Big Data Poll, said people chose not to vote on election day because of issues based on an exit poll he conducted. However, Thompson said that his evidence did not show that voters were intentionally turned away or refused a ballot, nor did it show intentionality causing the election day chaos.
Ultimately, Thompson stated that plaintiffs did not provide clear and convincing evidence for a favorable outcome in this trial. The court affirmed that Democrat Katie Hobbs is the Governor-Elect.
In closing arguments, Tom Liddy, representing Maricopa County, stated it would be seeking sanctions. Thompson stated the motion for sanctions must be filed by Monday morning.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Kari Lake” by The Kari Lake. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Carol M. Highsmith.