Court Battles

Arizona judge dismisses GOP AG candidate’s election challenge

An Arizona judge has dismissed a lawsuit from the Republican candidate for state attorney general challenging the results, ruling that he did not prove his case of mistakes in the election process impacting the outcome. 

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen previously ruled on Tuesday that the lawsuit from GOP nominee Abraham Hamadeh could go to trial, allowing four out of five filed counts to move forward. 

But Jantzen said that the “elements of the case” were not proven at an evidentiary hearing on Friday. 

“The bottom line is you just haven’t proven your case. You haven’t met the burden. The mistakes that may have been made were not enough to overcome the presumption the court has to have in election cases,” he said. 

“It just doesn’t overcome the presumption that the election was done correctly,” he added. 

Hamadeh and the Republican National Committee filed their lawsuit late last month against Democratic nominee Kris Mayes, Arizona Secretary of State and Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D) and several election officials across the state. 

The dismissal of the case does not necessarily mean Hamadeh will lose the election. Mayes led Hamadeh by 511 votes in the initial count, triggering a statewide recount, as Arizona law requires for elections where the margin is less than 0.5 percent. 

The results of the recount will be announced next week. 

The counts that Jantzen allowed to move forward on Tuesday focused specifically on allegations of inaccurate ballot duplications, the wrongful exclusion of provisional ballots and erroneously counted ballots in Maricopa County, the largest county in the state.

One of the arguments Hamadeh made was that Maricopa County officials improperly disqualified early voters who were marked as having already voted because of poll worker error. 

Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor, and Mark Finchem, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, also filed election challenges at the same time as Hamadeh earlier this month, but their challenges differed from his in at least one key way.

Hamadeh specifically noted in his lawsuit that he was not alleging widespread fraud or intentional wrongdoing that caused him to finish the election behind Mayes. Finchem’s lawsuit was dismissed last week, while eight out of 10 counts of Lake’s lawsuit were dismissed on Monday

Jantzen praised Hamadeh in the lawsuit for bringing a case based on specific arguments of unintentional mistakes influencing the final results instead of widespread voter fraud, as some others have argued in other cases, but said he did not present enough evidence that the election was done incorrectly. 

Jantzen said some of the ballots that were contested were invalid due to voter error and not following instructions, and he noted that there has been no evidence that attempts to get voters to fill out the ballot correctly were swayed in favor of one candidate or another. 

Hamadeh said in a tweet after the ruling that there were “thousands” of uncounted provisional ballots and thousands of voters were disenfranchised. He said his legal team will await the results of the recount before deciding their next step. 

“Election Day in Maricopa County was a disaster,” he said. “Election officials failed democracy.”

Tags 2022 midterm elections Abe Hamadeh Arizona Arizona attorney general election contest election lawsuit Katie Hobbs Kris Mayes maricopa county Mark Finchem Republican National Committee

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