Judge denies Hamadeh’s election contest, affirms Mayes’ win

Judge denies Hamadeh’s election contest, affirms Mayes’ win

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Republican Abe Hamadeh, candidate for Arizona Attorney General, speaks with the media after a televised debate against Democrat Kris Mayes on Sept. 28. The last election contest by Hamadeh went to trial on Dec. 23, and a judge denied Hamadeh’s petition, affirming Kris Mayes’ win in the attorney general race. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The last election contest by failed attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh went to trial this morning and a judge denied his petition, affirming Kris Mayes’ win. Like Kari Lake, Hamadeh had to meet a high burden of proof to flip the election in his favor.   

Unlike Lake, who was the Republican nominee for governor, fellow Republican Hamadeh had a much smaller margin of votes to argue.  

Hamadeh’s race, which he lost to Democrat Kris Mayes, came down to 511 ballots. But Hamadeh’s attorney conceded they did not have the 511 votes required.  

“If you extrapolate the numbers, it’s not going to get us to 511 votes,” Tim La Sota said. “We concede that.” 

And Judge Lee Jantzen of Mohave County agreed, denying the petition and affirming that Mayes won last month’s election from the bench.  

“Bottom line is you just haven’t proven your case,” Jantzen said. 

In Hamadeh’s case, Jantzen allowed four counts to go to trial dealing with allegations regarding provisional votes, ballot duplication errors, ballot adjudication errors and claims that some voters were not allowed to cast a ballot because poll workers did not check them out correctly at a polling place that experienced printer problems.  

Judge Jantzen dismissed a fifth count alleging the county improperly counted some early ballots with incorrect signatures. 

La Sota all but left most of the counts behind in trial this morning, claiming lack of evidence and need for more discovery.  

The evidence he did bring, showing undervotes for both candidates were improperly adjudicated, was not enough to push Hamadeh to victory.  

Heidi Grande, representative for Hamadeh, took the stand this morning and said she had looked at about 2,600 ballots yesterday from Maricopa County.  

She found mistakes but only a handful she believed to be for Hamadeh and another few for Mayes. 

Grande only found about six ballots she believes were in favor of Hamadeh and three votes in favor of Mayes.  

Scott Jarrett, elections director for Maricopa County, was called as a witness for the county, and discussed the process with adjudication boards and undervotes. 

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Democrat Kris Mayes smiles prior to a televised debate on Sept. 28 against Republican Abe Hamadeh ahead of the race for attorney general. Mayes defeated Hamadeh in last month’s election. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

La Sota did get Jarrett to acknowledge a few of the undervote ballots should have been in Hamadeh’s favor.  

But Joseph LaRue, attorney for Maricopa County, argued in closing the undervote adjudication process is “subjective.”   

In closing arguments, La Sota argued the sample was not big enough and maintained there was “no dispute” the six incorrectly filled in ballots were intended votes for Hamadeh.  

“This business about there being no facts, no evidence, no nothing, it is just a bunch of bologna,” La Sota said. “It clearly shows a trend in favor of Mr. Hamadeh.” 

Dan Barr, attorney for Mayes, called the case a “gigantic waste of time” and called for sanctions against Hamadeh’s lawyers.  

Andy Gaona, attorney for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, said “enough is enough.”  

“I don’t think that because an election contest fails that we can categorically dismiss it as a waste of time,” La Sota said.  

La Sota ultimately claimed he did not receive sufficient evidence to argue the case. And he requested the court adjust the counts to reflect the few errors his team found.  

“Sounds simple enough but it’s just not how election contests should work,” Jantzen said.  

Jantzen denied the petition and ruled against Hamadeh. The recount in the attorney general race is set to finish up by Dec. 29.