Panel affirms judge’s decision to toss out Lake’s election contest

Panel affirms judge’s decision to toss out Lake’s election contest

Lake, Hobbs, lawsuit, election, challenge, Court of Appeals, voters, ballots, tabulation,governor
Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor, waves to her supporters at the Republican watch party in Scottsdale on Nov. 8, 2022. An Arizona Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 16, 2023, affirmed a Maricopa County Superior Court judge’s decision to toss out Lake’s election contest. Lake lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

An Arizona Court of Appeals panel affirmed a Maricopa County Superior Court judge’s decision to toss out Kari Lake’s election contest.  

Appellate judges concluded that Republican gubernatorial candidate Lake failed to provide evidence to prove misconduct materially affected the outcome of the election. But the legal battle remains far from over as Lake has vowed to appeal the case to the Arizona Supreme Court. 

“Lake’s argument highlights election-day difficulties, but her request for relief fails because the evidence presented to the superior court ultimately supports the court’s conclusion that voters were able to cast their ballots, that votes were counted correctly, and that no other basis justifies setting aside the election results,” according to the decision authored by Chief Judge Kent E. Cattani, who was joined by Presiding Judge Maria Elena Cruz and Judge Peter B. Swann.   

Lake appealed her case and argued the lower court set the bar for “misconduct” too high by requiring “clear and convincing evidence” that widespread issues changed the election results. Democrat Katie Hobbs won the election for governor.

The appellate court found Lake did not have any ground to assert she only needed a “preponderance of evidence.” 

Lake cites no authority for her argument that a preponderance of the evidence standard applies in an election contest, and we are aware of none,” Cattani wrote.  

The court called Lake’s assertion that printers led to disenfranchisement and had “any potential effect on election results was, quite simply, sheer speculation.”  

Lake tried to reinforce her claim by bringing in pollster Richard Baris as an expert witness, who claimed “disenfranchisement” based on a lower response on his exit poll, which judges affirmed was not sufficient. 

The court found the claims that Maricopa County failed to maintain chain-of-custody were defused by testimony from county officials. And the charge that the county warped the results because of a difference in the estimated number of early ballots dropped off on Election Day and the final number reported by officials unconvincing.  

“Lake suggests the difference between the County Recorder’s initial estimate of election-day early ballot packets received… and the precise count after the vendor scanned those packets somehow rendered at least 25,000 votes illegal,” Cattani wrote. “Questionable mathematics aside, Lake does not explain (or offer any legal basis) for how the difference between an initial estimate and a final, precise figure invalidates any vote.” 

The appellate court also upheld the initial dismissal of eight of ten of Lake’s election claims as the evidence offered on signature verification only assessed the first-level review.  

Though the appellate court issued Lake another loss, she tweeted shortly after the decision came down, “I told you we would take this case all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”