An Arizona judge dismissed Republican Kari Lake’s lawsuit challenging last month’s gubernatorial election on Saturday. The ruling clears the path for Democrat Katie Hobbs to become the next governor and points up the inherent problems in relying on the judicial system to clear up election security problems after the fact.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson issued the Christmas Eve ruling after a two-day trial on the two counts of Lake’s case he allowed to be heard. He found that Lake had not proven that Maricopa election officials were guilty of intentional misconduct that changed the race’s outcome.
"The trial court judge in Kari Lake’s "election lawsuit predictably threw out her case on Saturday, putting on a sham trial that on the surface looked fair to the general public that doesn't know any better, but to legal minds was a travesty of justice."
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) December 26, 2022
Lake’s case was based on allegations that Maricopa officials denied her winning the election by intentionally causing printer malfunctions on Election Day and ignoring legal chain-of-custody ballot procedures.
Lake’s attorneys asked the judge to declare her to be the election’s actual winner or order a full re-vote.
Lake lost the governor’s race to Hobbs by about 17,000 votes out of more than 2.55 million cast statewide. Hobbs is scheduled to be sworn into office as governor on January 2.
Before the trial, Thompson had preemptively dismissed eight other counts alleged in Lake’s lawsuit. He found that the allegations in the counts he dismissed could not entitle Lake to relief under Arizona law, even if she successfully proved the underlying facts at trial.
Lake’s case focused on Maricopa County, which covers the Phoenix metropolitan area and contains around 60% of the state’s population. Her lawyers were able to get officials to admit that several polling locations in the county experienced significant printer malfunctions simultaneously. Those problems prevented vote tabulating devices from reading ballots.
Officials claimed that even though there were malfunctions, voters were able to use backup options to complete the voting process.
Lake’s theory also relied on the factual assertion that Election Day voting tends to favor Republican candidates. In addition, her lawyers introduced affidavits and witness testimony that claimed the conduct of officials on Election Day intentionally caused enough Lake voters to give up on voting to swing the election to Hobbs.
The dismissal of Lake’s case should stand as stark proof to Republicans that the judicial system is not going to ensure free and fair elections reliably. The standard for success at trial can be construed by judges in a way that is virtually impossible to reach. Accordingly, the GOP must learn that the path to election security is to prevent abuses before they happen and not by relying on courts to call fouls after they occur.