Judge dismisses Arizona GOP AG candidate’s election lawsuit as premature

A state judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit from Arizona Republican attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh contesting this month’s election, arguing it was filed prematurely.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee, which joined the suit, cannot file an election contest until after Arizona certifies the election, currently scheduled for Monday.

Hamadeh, who trails his Democratic rival by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots ahead of an automatic recount, claimed malfunctions in Arizona’s most populous jurisdiction and elsewhere altered the results, arguing the tabulations should be amended and he should be declared the winner.

Warner’s order, which did not consider the merits of the allegations, notes that Hamadeh could refile the lawsuit once state officials certify the election, indicating he does not need to wait for the recount to finish.

“Under these statutes there can be no election contest until after the canvass and declaration of results because, until then, no one is ‘declared elected.’ It is undisputed that the canvass and declaration of results for the November 2022 election have not occurred,” Warner wrote.

Erica Knight, a spokeswoman for Hamadeh, said he will refile the case after the statewide canvass.

“The merits of the lawsuit still stand,” Knight said.

Hamadeh’s lawsuit is one of multiple Republican legal challenges to Arizona’s elections this year.

GOP figures have seized on Election Day printer malfunctions in Maricopa County, which comprises about 60 percent of Arizona’s population and spans the Phoenix area, in arguing voters there were disenfranchised.

County officials have acknowledged the malfunctions but insist affected voters could utilize one of multiple backup options. 

The county’s Republican-controlled board certified its vote canvass on Monday after the state’s GOP and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, called for a delay.

Hobbs in her capacity as Arizona’s secretary of state lambasted Hamadeh’s suit in court filings, noting the procedural issues but also arguing the suit seeks to “thwart the will of the people.”

“An election contest must rest on facts known to Plaintiffs when a contest is filed, not wild speculation aimed at undermining the work of Arizona’s election officials,” Hobbs’s attorneys wrote.

Kris Mayes, Hamadeh’s Democratic opponent, had also opposed his suit, calling it a “fishing expedition to try to undermine Arizona’s election.”

All but one of Arizona’s 15 counties certified before Monday’s statutory deadline. 

Supervisors in the Republican-leaning Cochise County voted to defy the deadline, quickly sparking two legal challenges from Hobbs and progressive election lawyer Marc Elias.

Under Arizona law, state officials must certify the election on Monday unless they do not receive a certified canvass from a county. 

If Cochise County does not certify, state officials would then have until Dec. 8 before moving ahead without counting votes from the county.

Updated: 5:50 p.m. ET

Tags Abe Hamadeh Katie Hobbs Republican National Committee

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