Republican candidates for two of Arizona’s top offices held their first hearings in election-related legal challenges Tuesday, which will set the timeline for next steps that need to be taken.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Republican candidate for secretary of state Mark Finchem argue they won the Nov. 8 midterm election and urged judges to overturn the results. Both claimed that problems that arose at polling stations in Maricopa County on election day hurt the outcome and disenfranchised voters.
“The clerk believes the court will be able to settle this case in its entirety on a motion to dismiss without the need for an evidentiary hearing,” Hobbs attorney Andy Gaona said in a hearing before the Maricopa Superior Court County before a judge Peter Thomson. Lake’s attorney, Bryan Blehm, signaled that his team would also attempt to verify the ballots themselves and would file another motion in court to do so.
Attorneys for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Maricopa County have asked a judge to dismiss their lawsuits during Tuesday’s hearing.
“The Secretary believes the court will be able to settle this case in its entirety on dismissal motions without the need for an evidentiary hearing,” Andy Gaona, an attorney with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, told local media during the hearing.
At a hearing before another judge on Tuesday, Gaona slammed Finchem’s lawsuit, saying its “claims made by the plaintiffs are baseless.”
“I know the defendants may feel confident about their positions, but I hesitate to state one and then have to make an effort to prepare everyone because the time limit is so short,” Judge Melissa Julian replied.
The defendants in Lake’s lawsuit have until 3:00 p.m. ET Thursday, according to Thompson, to file their motions to dismiss. Your team has until 3 p.m. Saturday to respond.
Lake’s lawsuit, filed Dec. 9, seeks to overturn Arizona’s governor election. Election data shows Lake, a local TV host backed by former President Donald Trump, lost to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes, or about 0.6 percentage points.
“We had three whistleblowers from Maricopa County who came forward and said the system was seriously flawed,” she claimed to Just the News on Monday. “They threw away tens of thousands of signatures that said they were doodles that didn’t match in any way. But somewhere in between, the ballots were thrown away entirely and they were fed back into the system and counted as if they were fine.”
Hobbs’ campaign indicated in a statement released after the lawsuit was filed that it would be dismissed.
“Kari Lake needs attention like a fish needs water – and independent experts and local election officials from both parties have made it clear that this was a safe and fair election,” the campaign statement said. “Arizonas made their voices heard and elected Katie Hobbs as their governor. No pesky lawsuit will change that and we remain focused on preparing to hit the ground running on the first day of Katie Hobbs’ tenure next year.”
Maricopa officials confirmed on Election Day that there were misprints and urged voters to place their ballots in dropboxes, while later saying no voters were disenfranchised. A county spokesman told Reuters last week that Maricopa “looks forward to sharing facts about the administration of the 2022 general election and our work to ensure every legal voter has an opportunity to cast their ballot.”
Last month, Lake filed a public records request for additional information on counted and uncounted ballots that may have been shuffled during the election. After the Nov. 8 midterm elections, she also often posted videos of voters reporting long lines and other alleged abuses in Maricopa County’s elections.
This week, a Republican Arizona state senator filed a lawsuit in Mohave County aimed at “voiding” the results of Maricopa’s November 8 election in favor of Lake.
“Due to multiple systemic errors in the conduct of the Maricopa County, Arizona election … residents of Mohave County, Arizona have had their voting power diluted and their constitutional rights violated,” the lawsuit, which was filed by Senator Sonny Borrelli and several, said Mohave Voter.