Arizona Court Rejects Kari Lake’s Election Contest

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, an Arizona judge rejected the election contest filed by failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate and election denier Kari Lake (R) against then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), the Maricopa County recorder, members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and the Maricopa County director of elections. This came after a Dec. 19 order in which the judge dismissed eight out of the 10 claims Lake originally made in her lawsuit. Two much narrower claims were argued before the judge in a trial that took place on Dec. 21 and 22. The first claim considered ballot-on-demand (BOD) printer malfunctions that occurred in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, on Election Day. In order to succeed, Lake had to prove “that the BOD printer malfunctions were intentional, and directed to affect the results of the election, and that such actions did actually affect the outcome.” The second claim Lake had to prove at trial was that Maricopa County mishandled ballots during canvassing in a way that affected the canvass. After a whirlwind trial on these remaining two claims, an Arizona judge issued the final blow to Lake’s conspiracy-riddled requests to overturn the 2022 election results for governor. 

In his ruling, the judge wrote that the “margin of victory as reported by the official canvass is 17,117 votes – beyond the scope of a statutorily required recount. A court setting such a margin aside, as far as the Court is able to determine, has never been done in the history of the United States.” He concluded that, even though he acknowledged “the anger and frustration of voters who were subjected to inconvenience and confusion,” the court’s “duty is not solely to incline an ear to public outcry. It is to subject Plaintiff’s claims and Defendants’ actions to the light of the courtroom and scrutiny of the law.” The judge refuted Lake’s claims of misconduct in Maricopa County, finding that “as far as evidence of misconduct is concerned, the Court finds nothing to substantiate Plaintiff’s claim of intentional misconduct as to either claim” based upon the testimony presented at trial. The Dec. 24 order confirmed “the election of Katie Hobbs as Arizona Governor-Elect pursuant to” Arizona law. 

This ruling came just days after an Arizona judge dismissed another election-denier sponsored contest brought by Mark Finchem. Finchem appealed this decision, but the Arizona Supreme Court promptly rejected his appeal on Dec. 29. 

Despite the Dec. 24 ruling in Lake’s election contest, litigation continues. On Dec. 26, the defendants filed motions for sanctions against Lake’s attorney. The Maricopa County defendants argued, “[e]nough really is enough. It is past time to end unfounded attacks on elections and unwarranted accusations against elections officials. This matter was brought without any legitimate justification, let alone a substantial one.” On Dec. 27, the court denied the defendants’ motions for attorney fees and sanctions, but did direct Lake to pay expenses for some of the defendants’ witnesses. On Dec. 27, Kari Lake appealed the Dec. 24 decision denying her requested relief. On Dec. 31, Lake filed a petition to transfer her case to the Arizona Supreme Court, arguing that the court should hear the case (and bypass the typical appeals process) because “Maricopa’s electoral chaos targeted Republican voters, depriving Arizona of a ‘free and equal’ election; (2) respondent Katie Hobbs is due to be sworn in on January 2, 2023; and (3) purely legal issues of statewide importance justify reversal and, thus, a new election.” The Arizona Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the petition. 

Meanwhile, oral argument before the Arizona Court of Appeals is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 24, 2023. Despite Lake’s refusal to accept the results of the election and litigation continuing into 2023, Katie Hobbs was sworn in as governor of Arizona on Jan. 2, 2023. 

Read the Dec. 24 order here.

Learn more about the case here.