Kari Lake, Mark Finchem formally contest Arizona election results
The GOP nominees for three statewide positions in Arizona have filed lawsuits contesting the election results in the state after all three narrowly trailed their Democratic opponents in close races from last month’s midterm elections.
Republican nominees Kari Lake, running for governor, Mark Finchem, running for secretary of state, and Abe Hamadeh, running for attorney general, filed the challenges on Friday, four days after the state certified the vote and declared winners in most races, including the gubernatorial and Senate contests.
In the governor’s race, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) defeated Lake by about 0.6 points. In the contest to become the next secretary of state, Democrat Adrian Fontes defeated Finchem by almost 5 points.
Democrat Kris Mayes led Hamadeh by 511 votes as of the certification, but that race is undergoing a recount, as Mayes leads by less than 0.1 points. Arizona law requires any race to automatically go to a recount if the margin is within 0.5 points.
Candidates also have five days after certification to formally contest the results of an election in court.
Lake sued Hobbs and the Maricopa County recorder, board of supervisors and director of elections in their official capacities following controversies about the country’s electoral process.
Certain voting locations in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and is the most populous in the state, experienced issues with ballot printers where the ink was too light for tabulators to read. Election officials addressed the issue on Election Day by allowing voters to wait in line until the issue was resolved, cast a ballot at another voting center or drop their ballot in a separate box to be counted later.
But Lake’s campaign argued some of the affected voters’ ballots would not be counted because of improper checkout procedures and blending of ballots. The campaign asked a state judge on Election Day to extend the voting in the county, but the judge rejected the request as he said he did not see any evidence that anyone was denied the opportunity to vote.
Lake, who has refused to concede to Hobbs, said in her lawsuit that the number of “illegal votes” cast in the race “far exceeds” the roughly 17,000-vote lead that Hobbs has. She claimed that thousands of Republican voters were disenfranchised as a result of “election misconduct” at Maricopa County.
She claimed that printer errors occurred at more than 130 of the 223 voting centers in the county, but the county suggested that only 70 experienced the issue.
Lake said Republicans vote at a 3 to 1 ratio over Democrats and were therefore disproportionately affected by the printer problem. She said thousands of Republican voters gave up on voting due to long wait times or avoided the polls after hearing of the “chaos.”
Lake previously sued Maricopa County elections officials to demand answers to her public records requests about the mechanical issues on Election Day.
Finchem — along with Jeff Zink, the Republican nominee for Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District — filed his lawsuit against Fontes, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Hobbs. Gallego easily defeated Zink in their House race to represent the 3rd District, which includes parts of Maricopa County.
Finchem and Zink argued in their filing that voters were offered “weak and unsatisfying” alternatives to the machines in Maricopa County. They said the votes that were deposited in the separate box to be counted later were likely never counted.
They also noted that the top elections official in the state who was supervising the elections, Hobbs, was also running for governor at the same time. They said she should have recused herself, but she refused.
“Recusal would cause her to lose control of the election she hoped to directly benefit from – a staggering appearance of impropriety and display of unethical behavior,” Finchem and Zink argued.
Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) lawsuit, filed against Hobbs and each county in Arizona’s recorders and boards of supervisors, differs from Lake and Finchem’s in that it explicitly states that the plaintiffs are not alleging fraud, manipulation or other intentional wrongdoing that affected the outcome of the race.
But they said “certain errors and inaccuracies” in managing the polling places and tabulating some ballots occurred. The lawsuit states that elections officials in at least seven instances unlawfully denied voting to certain qualified individuals, erroneously tallied certain ballots and included certain illegal votes in the attorney general race.
Some of the examples Hamadeh argues are Maricopa County officials improperly disqualifying early ballots from voters who were marked as having already voted as a result of poll worker error and all county elections officials improperly tabulating voters’ selections when certain ballots could not be electronically counted.
Hamadeh and the RNC previously filed the lawsuit last month after the initial results were set, but a state judge dismissed it, ruling that it was filed prematurely. The judge said an election contest could not be filed until after the results were certified but did not consider the merits of their argument at that time.
The judge indicated Hamadeh and the RNC did not need to wait for the recount to be concluded to file again.
“At 511 votes out of 2.5 million, our race is the closest statewide race in Arizona history, it is currently undergoing a recount. Every legal vote deserves to be counted,” Hamadeh said in a statement upon refiling the lawsuit.