WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, May 17 — 191 days after Election Day — election denier Kari Lake was back in the courtroom contesting her loss to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) in the 2022 election. Wednesday marked the start of a new three-day trial, which will focus on one remaining claim regarding signature matching, in Lake’s quest to overturn the results of the election.
Prior to this new trial, Lake not only lost her election for Arizona governor by over 17,000 votes, but also consistently lost at three separate court levels. The trial court previously dismissed her election contest, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal and finally the Arizona Supreme Court denied review of six of the seven claims in Lake’s appeal. Following this ruling, the state Supreme Court sent one claim back to the trial court for further review, which is the subject of this new trial that began on Wednesday.
To prevail at trial, Lake must prove that signature verification did not occur in Maricopa County during the 2022 election. Specifically, she must show that Maricopa County did not conduct signature verification at stage 1, 2 or 3 and that this failure resulted in “‘sufficient numbers to alter the outcome of the election’ based on a ‘competent mathematical basis to conclude that the outcome would plausibly have been different[.]’” Arizona voters who cast an early mail-in ballot must sign an affidavit attesting to their identity; this signature is then compared to prior signatures in the voter’s record to confirm a match.
Day one was largely uneventful, with Lake and Maricopa County’s attorneys presenting their opening statements to the court. Then, Lake’s attorney called witnesses — or as Lake calls them, “whistleblowers” — to the stand to testify. One of these “whistleblowers,”Jacqueline Onigkeit, worked as a signature matcher during the election and testified to her experience doing signature verification.
Onigkeit spent almost an hour explaining the training required to do signature verification as well as the intricacies of the process itself. Onigkeit explained: “I was very focused on verifying signatures, doing the right job and making sure whether or not the signature matched.” She also highlighted the level of scrutiny to which the signature verifiers were held. “We were informed several times…that we were being audited every day. And if we were approving too many signatures or rejecting too many signatures, we’d be pulled into the office, get a warning, and if it happened a second time, we’d be let go,” she explained.
The court heard from other witnesses including two members of a fringe political action group partially funded by conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell called We the People AZ Alliance. Their testimonies were brief and they discussed a 24/7 livestream of the signature verification process, which Lake has to prove did not occur for her claims to be successful in court.
The trial is expected to start again at 12 p.m. EDT today.