Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and GOP Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh have both indicated that they think the 2022 election – in which they lost their races – wasn’t legitimate.
But in legal proceedings, attorneys in cases filed by the two candidates are making a more modest argument: they’re asking to review election records, saying the documents might turn up evidence that could affect the outcome of the races.
“We know we won this election,” Kari Lake said last week, days after a final vote tally showed her losing by 17,000 votes to Democrat Katie Hobbs.
“Arizonans demand answers and deserve transparency about the gross incompetence and mismanagement of the General Election by certain election officials. I will not stop fighting until all voters receive justice. See you in court,” Hamadeh tweeted last Tuesday, the day his legal team filed an election challenge in Maricopa County Superior Court and a day after the final count showed him losing by 510 votes to Democrat Kris Mayes.
Lake filed a lawsuit last Wednesday that didn’t claim she won the election, but argues that Maricopa County hasn’t provided public records relating to the election fast enough, violating the statutory requirement that public records requests be fulfilled “promptly.”
“Due to Defendants’ (Maricopa County officials) failures, many eligible voters may not have been able to vote,” Tim LaSota, a lawyer representing Lake, wrote in the Nov. 23 complaint, referring to the well-documented equipment problems that plagued many Maricopa County polling places on Election Day.
A Nov. 15 records request submitted by LaSota, submitted as evidence, shows he’s asking for “all public records” pertaining to a wide range of issues.
The second item in the 11-line request asks for: “All public records related to voters casting drop-offs (sic) ballots that were rejected due to voter submitting another ballot that day including names and all available contact information for these electors.”
Public records requests relating to voter registration typically have contact information redacted.
“All public records regarding any commingled ballot,” reads another line in LaSota’s request.
“These records are necessary for Plaintiff to determine the full extent of the problems identified and their impacts on electors,” the complaint states.
A hearing on Monday for the Hamadeh case indicated that the AG candidate’s team is pursuing a similar strategy.
Attorney Kory Langhofer said his team wants more information from Maricopa County so they can reach out to people whose votes could form the basis for the election challenge. Specifically, they want to identify people who checked into a voting center and then left without checking out.
In the election contest filed last week, Hamadeh’s lawyers argued that some of those people were denied a ballot when they went to vote at another location, or ballots they cast weren’t counted. But the Nov. 22 complaint didn’t provide declarations or other evidence in support of that claim.
Langhofer argued on Nov. 28 that further investigation will help them find people who were improperly denied their right to vote.
“Once we have that information from (Maricopa County), we obviously need to talk to all those folks and decide who to call and which of those (ballots) may be rehabilitatable,” he said.
Lake and Hamadeh aren’t the only ones seeking more information in relation to the Election Day problems in Maricopa County. Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office has sent letters to the county demanding records and Sen. Kelly Townsend, R-Apache Junction, has said she wants the county to answer questions about the Nov. 8 election.
But Dan Barr, an attorney representing Kris Mayes, said on Monday that Hamadeh’s lawyers shouldn’t be allowed to move the election contest forward while they’re still looking for evidence to back up their main claims.
“This is a lawsuit in search of facts” he said at the Monday hearing. “Filing a lawsuit unsupported by facts and saying I need discovery to try to find some facts to support a lawsuit – that’s not how we litigate cases in this country.”
Langhofer replied that Barr’s argument amounts to saying elections can’t be challenged.
“His standard would mean that this election is unreviewable and … it would be unethical for someone to ask questions about this election,” Langhofer said.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said he’ll to set a hearing for Dec. 6 to determine “the extent to which discovery is or should be permitted in an election contest.”
And he asked Langhofer to file a list of documents his side is seeking by Nov. 29.
In the meantime, Langhofer also said on Monday that his side will dismiss one of the five allegations in the original complaint, relating to the way that Arizona counties verify early ballot signatures. That leaves two major arguments in the case – one relating to Election Day problems in Maricopa County and one relating to ballot adjudication procedures.