Friday, September 22, 2023

Kari Lake’s long-running lawsuit against her interim loss in Arizona

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Shreya Christina
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More than a month after the Associated Press announced the results, Republican Kari Lake is still fighting her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs in the 2022 Arizona governor’s race.

Although she ultimately lost by more than 17,000 votes, Lake has refused to concede, accusing Arizona election officials of wrongdoing and requesting a court declaration that she favored the governor’s race or a full rematch of the election won.

a judge on Monday let her go on to a two-day trial starting Wednesday in which she will have a chance to prove there was a deliberate plan to sabotage her. While it’s unlikely she’ll be able to do so, she’ll have a chance to air her grievances once again in a way that can advance her once-successful career in GOP politics.

Lake has fought legal returns that she only lost because “hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots contaminate the election in Maricopa County” and that there were “widespread tabulator or printer malfunctions” stemming from election officials misconduct.

There is currently no evidence that Lake’s claims are factual. On Election Day, there were widespread printer failures in Maricopa County: About one-third of the county’s polling stations printed ballots with ink too weak to be processed by vote-counting machines that then rejected them. It is not clear how many ballots were involved.

But county officials have said the troubles prevented anyone from voting, and a Washington Post analysis found that Republican ballots were unlikely to be affected by those issues again. And the contractor of the county ballot has said it complied with applicable law and its own policies.

“This case is about restoring confidence in the election process — a confidence that Maricopa County and Hobbs election officials have shattered,” Lake wrote in her Dec. 9. complaint for the Arizona Supreme Court.

Maricopa County and Hobbs, in her capacity as governor-elect and current secretary of state, have requested that the court reject Lake’s complaint. They argued that it was riddled with “baseless speculation,” failing to “demonstrate a single illegal vote, a miscount of the vote, or that the [election officials] involved in any misconduct in the administration of the elections.”

Judge Peter Thompson dismissed most of Lake’s allegations on Monday but will allow her to be tried on two counts. First, she has a chance to prove that election officials deliberately tampered with ballot printers, which print special ballots when each voter checks in, with the goal of influencing the election and ultimately changing the outcome. She will also be given the opportunity to prove that the Maricopa County polling contractor deliberately and falsely added their relatives’ votes to the total and that this materially affected the result.

Lake announced the decision on Twitter as a “huge legal WIN!”

“Christmas came early yesterday,” she said told the crowd at an event hosted by the right-wing activist organization Turning Point USA on Tuesday. “We have a chance to show the world that our elections are really corrupt and we can’t take it anymore.”

But proving the kind of crime she’s alleging is another matter, and Thompson could still slap her with monetary penalties for making frivolous claims.

But even if Lake doesn’t succeed in her lawsuit, she’s been able to use this legal battle to maintain her national profile. Although election deniers lost up and down the vote in 2022, their movement is still alive and well and Lake is at the helm.

Lake’s legal battle may be strategic

She ran an unconventional campaign, eschewing traditional ad buying for viral campaign videos full of controversial statements that made national headlines, including remarks that seemed to downplay the violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband. All that won the admiration (and approval) of her Trump and praise from other prominent Republicansthough she still proved to be a divisive figure within the party and that’s perhaps even more so now that she’s lost what appeared to be a winnable race.

Kenneth L. Khachigian, Ronald Reagan’s former chief speechwriter, waxed poetic in the Wall Street Journal ahead of the election: “What makes Ms. Lake’s message different is its simplicity and fearlessness. It is unashamed and sincere, not cloaked in codewords.” Trump reportedly sees something of himself in Lake, and they are now even in the way they handled their election losses.

All the admiration from Republicans — and speculation that they might be one potential running mate for Trump, even though she didn’t win the governorship – suggests a future in the GOP. By keeping her supporters, and Trump’s, engaged, she puts herself in a strong position to help Trump face a tough challenge to Biden in 2024, and to try to fulfill all other political ambitions, whatever they may be to be.

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