The judge in Kari Lake’s election challenge lawsuit declined to award sanctions against her attorneys, although he did order her team to pay the costs of the government defendants. However, in a lawsuit Lake filed earlier this year with Mark Finchem contesting the use of electronic voting machine readers, U.S District Judge John Tuchi, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, sanctioned her attorneys on December 1. This is unlike similar lawsuits filed around the country, where judges declined to award sanctions.
Lake told The Arizona Sun Times her skepticism about Tuchi’s motivations. “The same judge who sanctioned us was also the one behind the disgraceful ruling that prevented several journalists from being able to cover our elections,” she said. “He actually ruled to keep journalists out of Maricopa County press conferences regarding the elections because they were the type of journalist who are actually going to be asking tough questions, and not going along with the corrupt election officials’ narrative. And when that case was overturned in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in their opinion they made sure to chastise Judge Tuchi. Tuchi is operating as a political proxy rather than a impartial judge. It’s a shame to see what our judicial system has become.”
Lake’s and Finchem’s lawsuit was filed in April and Tuchi dismissed it in August. Maricopa County asked for sanctions on the grounds that attorneys brought claims to court that were “demonstrably false,” citing “vague” allegations that machine counting can produce inaccurate results. Tuchi said the attorneys acted “recklessly” and in “bad faith.” He ordered Lake and Finchem’s lawyers to pay Maricopa County’s attorneys fees. He warned others considering similar lawsuits, “It is to penalize specific attorney conduct with the broader goal of deterring similarly baseless filings initiated by anyone, whether an attorney or not.”
Tuchi said that allegations from the plaintiffs that Maricopa County uses paper ballots were false — choosing to interpret their objection to using paper ballots with machines as if they naively didn’t understand that elections in Arizona are already conducted with paper ballots. He also said in his order dismissing the case that “speculative allegations that voting machines may be hackable are insufficient to establish an injury in fact.”
Numerous similar lawsuits filed around the country attempting to stop the use of electronic voting machines didn’t result in sanctions.
In 2019, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg refused to dismiss a lawsuit arguing that the paperless touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure, vulnerable to hacking and unable to be audited. Totenberg wrote in her order rejecting that request that the state’s arguments “completely ignore the reality faced by election officials across the country underscored by Plaintiffs’ allegations that electronic voting systems are under unceasing attack.” Her order cited multiple reports and findings by federal government officials and cybersecurity experts that highlight security vulnerabilities.
This year in Kansas, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to halt the use of voting machines and drop boxes, stating that it was “long on suspicion, contingency and hypothesis, but short on facts.” He did not award any sanctions.
In Alabama, Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin dismissed a similar lawsuit over voting machines in August, stating that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim and the alleged injury was “speculative.” No sanctions were awarded.
Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson tried for several years with lawsuits to access the paper tapes that tabulate election results for electronic voting machines in Sedgwick County, Kansas. No sanctions were awarded against her attorney.
U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs dismissed a lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s electronic voting machines in 2019, stating the suit did not prove there was a “substantial” threat to the right to vote. The plaintiffs alleged that the aging touchscreen voting machines were vulnerable to hacking and provided no way to confirm that votes have been recorded correctly because there is no paper trail.
In 2020, U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond dismissed former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s lawsuit demanding Pennsylvania withdraw certification for the electronic voting machines used in Northampton County and elsewhere. Diamond said it was “pointless” and based on “daft theories.” He said she produced no evidence that the ExpressVote XL machines could be hacked but did not award any sanctions.
Look Ahead America sued Stark County, Ohio in 2021 for purchasing Dominion voting machines. In October, Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath issued an opinion stating that “Plaintiff has shown no right to relief.” There were no sanctions.
Several voters sued Dominion and Facebook after the 2020 election claiming the companies illegally “influenced or interfered with” the election. Lower courts rejected the lawsuit, including a federal district court judge in Colorado who said the plaintiffs “allege no particularized injury traceable to the conduct of Defendants, other than their general interest in seeing elections conducted fairly and their votes fairly counted.” The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, and no sanctions were awarded.
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